The American tourist who had his expensive watch stolen in a caught-on-camera Barcelona mugging has spoken exclusively to DailyMail.com to deny lying to Spanish police about how much the timepiece is worth, saying he doesn’t remember how much he paid for it and that he is being unfairly treated as ‘the bad guy’.
Seth Bernstein, 46, was mugged in Barcelona in front of four of his five children on June 2 as they walked down a street outside their five star hotel.
He filed a police report in which Spanish police say he claimed it was worth $800,000.
On Thursday, those same authorities revealed their suspicions that he had lied, after the watchmaker Hublot confirmed the piece was in fact worth closer to $45,000.
He may now be on the hook for charges for lying, with a Spanish judge set to review the police report and incident.
Now, Bernstein is speaking to DailyMail.com to insist that he never told them the watch was worth $800,000 and that he doesn’t remember how much it cost.
He says he ended up telling police it cost $80,000 – not $800,000 – to satisfy their questions and that his best guess is they accidentally added an extra zero in a Spanglish error because there was no translator present when he was interviewed.
Bernstein and his wife Marie at a 2018 charity gala. He says the stolen watch is one of many that he owns and that he doesn’t remember how much he paid for it when he bid for it
Seth Bernstein, 46, was mugged in Barcelona in front of four of his five children on June 2 as they walked down a street outside their five star hotel. He is shown with his wife Marie and their children. He told DailyMail.com he is being unfairly treated as a criminal when he is the victim of a crime
He says he bid for it at a charity auction six years ago for his 40th birthday, then insured it along with his ‘many’ other watches, but that it’s unimportant to him.
Bernstein said the watch is insured as are all of his pieces, and that he’ll let the insurance company decide what the real value of it is.
He maintains that the Spanish police were ‘rude’ to him from the beginning and that he was never considered a victim when he should have been.
‘I am the victim here, I was mugged in front of my children on what was supposed to be a happy vacation.
‘My kids are hysterically crying. What did I do wrong? I had my watch stolen.
‘It’s like I’m the bad guy here,’ he said from Sweden, where he is rounding out his European vacation with his wife’s family.
Bernstein says he is most frustrated with Spanish police for issuing surveillance footage of the mugging, in which his terrified kids appear.
He says he would never have lied to police about the value of the watch – something that can be easily disproven by insurance investigations – and that he is being made the scapegoat to distract from the ’embarrassment’ of the Spanish police that they can’t crackdown on crime.
Bernstein was walking down the street with his kids on Tuesday June 7 when the mugger approached him from behind. He says the thief produced a knife and slashed his watch off his wrist, then ran away
Bernstein says his four kids who witnessed the mugging are traumatized and haven’t stopped crying
Bernstein, who works in private equity and also ran a private jet charter company was previously accused of misappropriating PPP loans last year.
He told DailyMail.com it was an ‘accounting error’ that led to the Justice Department pursuing him, and that the matter was settled.
A Hublot watch. Bernstein says he told cops his was worth around $80,000 but that he doesn’t actually remember how much he paid for it at auction six years ago. Police say he told them $800,000
A Justice Department announcement from August last year reveals that he repaid the government $287,055 to settle allegations that he misappropriated funds, using the money on his lavish lifestyle instead of on his business, Jet Ready.
‘It was an accounting error and it was settled civilly, I was not charged criminally,’ he said.
Earlier on Thursday, The New York Post cited a spokeswoman for the Mossos d’Esquadra who said what Bernstein said about the watch’s value was ‘out of step’ with reality.
‘It would be up to an investigating judge to determine whether any further action should be taken along those lines,’ the spokeswoman said.
‘As far as we’re concerned we’re dealing with a violent mugging and we’re still looking for the person or people responsible.
‘Whether or not a court decides to charge the robbery victim will possibly depend on whether he is asked to ratify his police statement and repeats his claim the watch was worth 800,000 euros.
‘What this gentleman tells his insurance company, if he makes an insurance claim using his police statement, is a matter between him and his insurers,’ they said.
Bernstein says he wishes they would focus on the crime itself. He says he regrets going to the police.
‘They should be focusing on the crime in their city and not on trying to target tourists,’ he said.