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George Orwell’s son has £13,000 watch snatched during a visit to Spanish Civil War ground where his father fought

Picture: The Orwell Society

The adopted son of writer George Orwell has been robbed of his £13,000 Omega watch while visiting the city that honours his father.

Richard Blair was in Barcelona in a tour group to visit the trenches where his father fought during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 to 1939.

Mr Blair, 78, had only been in the city a few hours before the thief struck.

The robber grabbed Mr Blair’s wrist and ripped off the watch.


Barcelona honours the writer with the Placa de George Orwell.

Lately, the city has been plagued with gangs of thieves stealing high value watches from tourists.

Mr Blair told the i:

“The theft happened at about 7.15pm when we as a group were walking to the restaurant.

“[A friend] was ahead by about 200 metres with three of the group and I was with the rest.

“The thief leapt out, grabbed my wrist with one hand and ripped off my watch with the other.”

He added: “It wasn’t especially of sentimental value, but I liked it as it wasn’t all blingy and as an Omega it kept good time.

“All right, I shouldn’t have been wearing it. Lesson learnt.”

Retired businessman Mr Blair was visiting the trenches in Aragon, in eastern Spain.

Orwell – real name Eric Blair – was shot through the neck during the civil war.

His experiences inspired the book Homage to Catalonia.

The theft of watches has increased since holidaymakers started returning to the city post-pandemic.

A special police squad has been set up to target the gangs.

Last month more than 30 suspects were arrested.

Silvia Catà, deputy head of the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan regional police, said:

“They are cases of thieves who are repeat offenders but who are not experts in robbery, because they can injure victims particularly on the wrist.

“Sometimes they steal fake designer watches.

“Generally, they act in a group.

“One immobilises [the victim] and the other one wrenches the watch off the hand.

“They normally escape on scooters.”



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