Historic auction: Titanic’s wealthiest passenger’s pocket watch shatters records

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Titanic Treasure: Astor’s pocket watch sets auction record, sells for £1.175 million.

LONDON, April 28: A historic auction held by Henry Aldridge & Son on Saturday saw the sale of a significant artifact from the Titanic, as a pocket watch belonging to John Jacob Astor IV, the wealthiest passenger aboard the ill-fated ship, fetched an astonishing £1.175 million (€1.38 million, $1.46 million). The sale far exceeded the pre-sale estimate, which had anticipated a price range of £100,000 to £150,000.

The 14-carat gold Waltham pocket watch, engraved with the initials JJA, was discovered with Astor’s body after the Titanic sank in April 1912. The auction commenced with a starting bid of £60,000 and concluded with an American buyer securing the prized possession.

Accompanying the watch were other valuables found with Astor, including a diamond ring, gold and diamond cufflinks, £225 in English notes, and $2,440. The watch, meticulously restored after being returned to Colonel Astor’s family and worn by his son, carries significant historical and sentimental value.

John Jacob Astor IV, renowned as the richest passenger aboard the R.M.S. Titanic, was estimated to be one of the wealthiest individuals globally, with a net worth of approximately $87 million (equivalent to several billion dollars today). Tragically, Astor perished after ensuring the safety of his pregnant wife, who survived the tragic maritime disaster.

The sale of Astor’s pocket watch marks a historic moment in Titanic memorabilia auctions, surpassing the previous record of £1.1 million set by a violin played during the ship’s sinking, also sold by Henry Aldridge & Son in 2013. Additionally, the case for the violin, sold alongside the pocket watch, fetched £360,000.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge expressed astonishment at the prices achieved during the sale, describing them as “absolutely incredible.” He noted that the high demand for Titanic artifacts underscores the enduring fascination and appeal of the Titanic story, highlighting the significance of these relics in preserving maritime history.

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