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Roosevelt's 1895 Revolver Returned

Roosevelt's Revolver
Stolen 1895 Pistol Returned in New York

Roosevelt’s revolver

06/14/06

It was aboard the USS Maine when the battleship exploded and sunk to the bottom of Havana Harbor in 1898. Later that year, it was Teddy Roosevelt's sidearm when he charged San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War.

Now, after disappearing 16 years ago, the historic revolver is back in its rightful place—President Roosevelt's home at Sagamore Hill on Long Island—thanks to the help of the FBI and its partners. It was formally presented by our Assistant Director in Charge in New York, Mark Mershon.

The weapon is a Model 1892 Army and Navy Colt double-action, six-shot revolver made in 1895. As an antique, it's worth a fair amount of money. As a piece of American history, it's priceless.

"This is exactly why we have an Art Crime Team," says Bonnie Magness-Gardner, manager of our Art Theft program in Washington. "It gives us the expertise we need to recover and return valuable historic treasures to their owners-whether it's a private collector, a museum, or a national government."

During its first year of operation, our Art Crime Team has helped locate more than 100 items worth over $50 million, including:

  • Rembrandt's Self Portrait (1630), stolen from the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm in 2000;
  • Three nineteenth-century paintings by German artist Heinrich Buerkel that were taken at the end of World War II;
  • Approximately 100 paintings stolen from a Florida family's art collection, including works by Picasso, Rothko, and Matisse; and
  • Four rare books—including rare pencil sketches by John James Audubon and a first edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of the Species—stolen from a university in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Roosevelt pistol was turned in by a U.S. citizen, who asked to remain anonymous. The investigation and recovery were the result of the combined efforts of the National Park Service, the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Nassau County Police Department, the Florida State Attorney's Office, and the FBI.

And the thief? The investigation continues into who stole the revolver from Sagamore Hill in April 1990, and we encourage anyone with information to contact our New York office at (212) 384-5000 or their local FBI office.

Resources: Additional pictures of the gun: first close-up and second close-up | Art Theft program website

Post script: Did you know? The FBI has several historical ties to Theodore Roosevelt. President Roosevelt's Attorney General—Charles Bonaparte—created a force of special agents in 1908 that was the forerunner of the FBI. And Roosevelt's bodyguard and confidant was a man named James Amos, who later became a Bureau special agent.