A huge treasure trove of items formerly owned by now disgraced $50 billion-or-so Ponzi scheme ringleader and provacateur Bernie Madoff will be up for auction this weekend in New York. Sure there will be all the furs, diamonds, and sports memorabilia you can handle (and even a few vintage duck decoys) – but my interest in this one-of-kind auction is, of course, the watches. Now, being a man of means – that is, a man of means with OPM (other people’s money) – ole’ Bernie managed to assemble himself quite the watch collection. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reports today that: “A collection of more than 40 watches, including some women’s watches, 17 Rolexes and several Audemars Piguets, Franck Mullers and Jaeger-LeCoultres, will be auctioned off. ” The Journal actually singles out one of the more notable big ticket watches, “an 18-karat yellow gold, black-faced vintage men’s Rolex, the Monoblocco, valued between $75,000 and $87,500…” and went on to quote Antiquorum Auctioneers SA Watch Director and Expert Julien Schaerer as saying “It’s a pretty rare watch and it’s pretty desirable” suggesting that an all original timepiece could fetch as much as $75,000 to $100,000. Not bad for a Ponzi-scheme’s work, eh?
After just a few minutes reviewing the lineup one will see that Madoff had an incredible collection of vintage Rolex watches (I wonder what my vintage Rolex-wearing friends at Hodinkee think?), but he also had quite a few other nice modern and vintage watches as well – Patek Philippe, Blancpain, Hublot, Frank Muller, IWC, JLC….the list goes on and on. As for all these, I can make not attestations to their authenticity (do you really want to take Madoff at his word?), nor what kinds of prices they may fetch (but don’t expect to steal any of them at bargain prices)…and so while online bids will be allowed, I would highly recommend you preview these watches in person before making a purchase.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the lots that look interesting, shall we?
LOT 237- ROLEX:
Gents 18ky vintage Rolex O.P. “Monoblocco” chronograph wristwatch; aka “Prisoner Watch”; domed plastic crystal; black dial w/ rose tri-sticks &; Arabic numerals; gold hands; polished bezel; 35mm round case; dk brown alligator strap (tang); Model 3525; 17 jewel Rolex mechanical winding mvmt; Serial 380223 (1945).
The meaning of the moniker “Prisoner Watch” – Rolex offered similar timepieces to prisoners of war in Germany during World War II, including those involved in “The Great Escape.”
LOT 235- ROLEX:
Gents 18ky vintage Rolex Oyster chronograph wristwatch; Monochrome motif; gold dial w/ luminous sticks &; Arabics, 3 gold sub-dials; 35.1mm round case; Brown stitched Alligator strap (tang); 17 jewel Rolex Geneve mechanical winding mvmt; Case 4048; Serial 58105 (1935). Note: Professionally restored.
LOT 255 Audemars Piguet
Gents st.steel Audemars Piguet chronograph wristwatch; silver dial w/ 2 sub-dials (at 3 &; 9 positions); 38.81mm round case; brown alligator strap w/ AP deployant buckle; Automatic mvmt; Serial D99198.
LOT 253- Patek Philippe
Gents 18kw Patek Philippe Annual Calendar wristwatch; black dial w/ silver Roman numerals; date at 6 position; 3 black sub-dials; syn saph crystal front &; back; 36.95mm round case; black alligator band w/ 18kw deployant buckle; Model 5035G; 35 jewel Patek Philippe automatic mvmt, Cal. 315/198, Serial 3059777.
LOT 254- Audemars Piguet
Gents 18ky Audemars Piguet Huitieme chronograph wristwatch; crème colored dial &; sub-dials (3); date at 3 position; gold hands; 40.4mm round case; dkBrown alligator strap w/ 18ky AP double deployant clasp; Automatic mvmt; Serial C54966.
LOT 265- Jaeger-LeCoultre
Gents st.steel Jaeger-LeCoultre wristwatch; Master Control Collection, Master Geographic model (discontinued); 38mm round case; silver dial, day at 3/24 hour GMT at 6/power reserve at 10; polished bezel; brown crocodile band w/ deployant buckle; automatic mvmt; Case 142.8.92; Serial No 1401
All pictures and lot information from Gaston and Sheehan. I would also note that the auction is being conducted by Gaston & Sheehan Auctioneers on behalf of the U.S. Marshal’s service (not Antiquorum), and I could not yet confirm if all the watches listed are Madoff’s or if other lots are also included (will let you know if not the case).
If you happen to go to the auction, would love to hear your thoughts.