Gold pocket watch of richest Titanic passenger sells for record price

A US buyer wins the bidding war, exceeding – by more than 10 times – the auctioneer’s presale estimate.

A damaged pocket watch found on a Titanic passenger
Another pocket watch found in the belongings of a passenger named William Henry Allen [fILE: Bebeto Matthew/AP]

A gold watch found on the body of the richest passenger on the Titanic has been auctioned in the United Kingdom for 1.17 million British pounds ($1.46m) – a record sum paid for an object linked to the infamous 1912 shipping disaster.

The watch, engraved with the initials JJA after the United States-based business magnate John Jacob Astor, was sold on Saturday by the auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son.

A US buyer won the bidding war, exceeding – by more than 10 times – the auctioneers’ presale estimate of between 100,000-150,000 pounds ($126,000-189,500).

Astor was 47 when he died as the Titanic sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912, one of 1,500 people on board who died. He was reputed to be one of the richest men in the world at the time.

He died after having helped his wife, Madeleine, board one of the lifeboats. She survived the disaster.

Astor’s body was found a week after the disaster, with the watch among his personal belongings. A statement from the auction house said the watch was completely restored after being returned to Astor’s family and worn by his son.

In November 2023, a pocket watch recovered from the body of passenger Sinai Kantor, 34, a Russian immigrant who died in the catastrophe, was also sold by the same auction house in the UK for 97,000 pounds ($118,700).

A rare menu from the ill-fated liner’s first-class restaurant that showed what the most well-to-do passengers ate for dinner on April 11, 1912 –  three days before the ship struck the iceberg that caused it to sink in the Atlantic Ocean – sold for 83,000 pounds ($101,600).

Source: News Agencies