Mahatma Gandhi’s pocket watch and personal belongings realized just under $2.1 million as part of the Antiquorum Auctioneers sale of Important Collectors’ Wristwatches, Pocket Watches & Clocks, held March 4 and 5 in New York.
The auction as a whole took in $8.7 million. More than 500 online bidders, in addition to room and telephone bidders, bought modern and vintage watches at 142 percent of their low estimate resulting in 75 percent of all lots sold, the auction said in a statement.
Gandhi’s pocket watch, sandals, glasses, bowl, and thali were sold for $2.096 million to what the auction house described as a “prominent Indian businessman who intends is to bring the items back to India for permanent public display.”
“Despite continued global economic concern, we have achieved tremendous results for our first auction of 2009,” said Evan Zimmermann, Antiquorum president and chief executive officer.
“Antiquorum is pleased that the objects attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, one of the greatest spiritual and political leaders of the 20th-century, will be returning to India, added Robert Maron, Antiquorum chairman. “We know that this was the hope of the Indian people, as well as many others around the world.”
The auction also included a watch belonging to both U.S. president John F. Kennedy and Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis. Known as the “Kennedy Onassis” watch, it is the only known item connecting JFK, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Aristotle Onassis. It fetched $120,000.
Another watch of great significance in the sale was the Patek Philippe Henry Grave’s platinum minute repeater, which sold for $630,000. The watch belonged to the late Henry Graves Jr. who inspired Patek Philippe to create some of its most complicated watches to date.
In addition, the “Giuseppe Bonanno” 1950’s Patek Philippe watch sold for sold for $36,000. Bonanno was an original member of the “Commission” whose purpose was to establish rule by consensus amongst the New York crime families and is thought to be the inspiration for the character of Vito Corleone in Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather.”
Several other Patek Philippe timepieces achieved excellent results, including: The Ref. 5016 in yellow gold, lot 536, fetched $ 494,000; the “TV Watch” in white gold, Ref. 5020 (lot 526), sold for $180,000; the Ref. 3970 in white gold (lot 525) attained $ 108,000; and the yellow gold “Celestial” wristwatch (lot 120), which sold for $186,000.
An Audemars Piguet watch, the “End of Days,” (lot 435) sold for $ 42,000. A Cartier Art deco desk alarm clock sold for $32,400, three times its’ pre-sale estimate.