Gold Pocket Watch That Belonged to Richest Man on Titanic Shatters Auction Records

Selling for $1.2m USD.

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A gold watch that survived the Titanic has sold for $1.2m USD at auction, the highest sum paid for a Titanic related item ever. The object once belonged to John Jacob Astor, the richest passenger who perished with the ocean liner when it tragically sunk in the early hours of April 15, 1912. The watch sold to a private US collector on April 27 from auction house Aldridge & Son‘s “Titanic, White Star and Transport Memorabilia” sale.

John Jacob Astor was a wealthy American real estate developer, businessman and writer whose family largely accrued his wealth from the American Fur Company, historically considered as one of the first monopolies within the US. Astor was mired in controversy at the time of the Titanic’s maiden voyage, as he married a woman 30 year younger than him, which he had been returning with from a honeymoon trip in Europe.

After escorting his wife, Madeleine Talmadge Force and friend Margaret Brown into a lifeboat, Astor was last seen smoking a cigarette with the American journalist and mystery writer Jacques Futrelle. Astor’s body was found a week later by a neighboring recovery ship that returned jewels, the pocket watch and personal objects to the business magnate’s son, who refurbished the watch.

“The thing with the Titanic story, it’s effectively a large ship hits an iceberg with a tragic loss of life, but more importantly is 2,200 stories,” said Andrew Aldridge in a past interview. “2,200 subplots, every man, woman and child had a story to tell and then the memorabilia tells those stories today.”

Other noteworthy items within the sale included a photograph that experts believe may be the same iceberg that sank the titanic, captured by an undertaker who visited the scene days later.

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