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Gold watch worn by richest Titanic passenger sets new record at auction

The previous sale record was 1.1 million pounds for the violin that was famously played by the ship’s bandleader as it sank.
Gold pocket watch from Titanic
Posted at 1:22 PM, Apr 29, 2024

A gold watch worn by the richest man aboard the Titanic sold for a record-breaking $1.5 million at an auction in England on Saturday.

Henry Aldridge and Son, a Wiltshire auction house known for selling Titanic memorabilia, said the watch was recovered with John Jacob Astor IV’s body a week after the Titanic went down in 1912.

The timepiece sold for 10 times the expected price, setting a new world record for Titanic artifacts. The previous sale record was 1.1 million pounds for the violin that was famously played by the ship’s bandleader as it sank, sold by the same auction house in 2013.

The 14-karat gold Waltham pocket watch engraved with Astor’s initials was purchased by a private collector in the U.S., according to Henry Aldridge and Son.

A scene from "Titanic" is shown.

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Astor is also thought to have been one of the richest men in the world when the tragedy took place — worth about $87 million at the time, which translates to several billion today, the auction house said. His wife survived the catastrophe.

Andrew Aldridge, the auction house’s managing director, told CNN the prices Titanic pieces go for are a testament to people’s ongoing interest in the story.

Other Titanic items sold at the most recent auction included the valise that held the famous violin sold years prior and a pocketbook with documents on the ship’s scheduled voyages.