Wealth Matters: A New Light on the Watch Market


Rolex watches span the gamut from affordable to exclusive, starting at less than $6,000 and soaring to limited-edition models that cost more than $300,000. It’s like the range of Mercedes cars between a basic C Class sedan, which has no rarity value, and a more coveted AMG Cabriolet that tops $300,000.

“Rolex has become a cultural symbol and a status symbol,” said Benjamin Clymer, founder and chief executive of Hodinkee. “The quality you receive in a Rolex is above most other watches at that price point.”

Patek has invested heavily in marketing campaigns that focus on its watches as heirlooms. But Mr. Clymer said the brand does not translate immediately into appreciation.

He said that the company’s signature watch, the Calatrava, which costs about $20,000, is like any new car. “If you bought it and tried to sell it the next day, you’d take a bath,” he said.

“They’re not always great investments, but there is a track record for them becoming great investments,” he said of the Patek Philippe timepieces.

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“We’re monetizing a wristwatch as if it’s an asset,” said Danny Govberg, the chief executive of WatchBox.

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Mark Makela for The New York Times

Discerning the investment potential of watches can be as complex as the intricate machinery that runs them.

“Things can change very rapidly in the watch world, the way they can with other investments,” said Daryn Schnipper, chairwoman of Sotheby’s international watch division. “One of the things I suspect people should be tuned into is production quantities and trends of a company — is it a solid company or a new company?”

As with most investments, she said, supply drives watch prices. For instance, new Rolex Daytonas are not easy to find, so the price for vintage ones has ticked up.

Watches that are known beyond aficionados have a tendency to increase in value, Mr. Clymer said. Mr. Newman’s Rolex Daytona is one. The Omega Speedmaster, which astronauts wore on the Apollo 11 moon mission, is another.

“That Speedmaster has a place in world history,” he said.

But sometimes the high prices that watches fetch have as much to do with luck as anything else.

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Renaissance Tapestries Are Out. But Today’s Are Having a Renaissance.


On Tuesday and Wednesday, the regional auctioneer Sworders sold the principal contents of North Mymms Park, a Jacobean estate 17 miles north of London that had formerly been the home of the British-American banker Walter Hayes Burns, brother-in-law of the financier John Pierpont Morgan. Most recently, the house has been owned by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, which was putting its principal contents up for sale.

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“Red Carpet,” by Grayson Parry, was made in an edition of eight. The dealership that financed the works said they had sold out.

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Paragon Press

The second day of the auction began with an exceptional group of 19 antique tapestries that had hung in the house for more than 100 years, many of them gifts from Mr. Morgan. These included a partial set of five mid-16th-century Brussels tapestries depicting the “Labors of Hercules.”

In 1979, when the Burns family sold North Mymms Park and its contents, all 19 had been offered by Christie’s. The tapestries were then bought back by the estate’s next owner, to preserve the decorative scheme.

On Wednesday, the five “Labors” sold for a seemingly impressive total of 478,000 pounds with fees, or about $680,000, led by the £146,400 given for a tapestry of Hercules and Atlas. It was bought online by a London dealer, who acquired nine tapestries in the sale. But in 1979, that same partial set was sold by Christie’s for £104,000, equivalent to about $800,000 in today’s money.

An 18th-century Brussels tapestry of a village festival, also formerly owned by Mr. Morgan, sold for £9,760. At the Christie’s auction 40 years earlier, it achieved a top price of £28,000.

“They’ve gone down substantially,” said Penny Bingham, a specialist valuer whom Sworders consulted for the North Mymms Park auction.

“People want instant color, and they’re generally less interested in wall hangings and textiles,” she added, noting that potential buyers were concerned about tapestries’ colors fading.

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Weavers at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh during the making of Chris Ofili’s tapestry “The Caged Bird’s Song.”

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Dovecot Studios

Paradoxically, just as antique tapestries have been falling out of collecting fashion, there has been a revival in tapestry as a medium for contemporary art. Digital innovation has allowed tapestries made on Jacquard machine looms to achieve unprecedented clarity of interpretation, and enterprises such as Factum Arte in Madrid and Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh are enabling artists to realize ambitious new projects in the historical, but ever-evolving, medium.

“Increased computing power means you can do things you couldn’t do before,” said Adam Lowe, the founder of Factum Arte, which facilitates and produces artworks using a range of new and established techniques. “Artists are getting really excited by tapestry and are trying to push what can be done with the medium,” added Mr. Lowe, who points out that the Jacquard loom’s early-19th-century punch-card technology prefigured modern computing.

Grayson Perry, Cornelia Parker, Carlos Garaicoa and Craigie Horsfield are among the artists Factum Arte has helped to make tapestries on the looms of Flanders Tapestries in Wielsbeke, Belgium.

“The looms have become so sophisticated in the last 10 years,” said Mr. Horsfield, who immerses himself in the painstaking process of turning a large-scale photograph into data, then into an even bigger, unique tapestry. “I can make it look exactly like a photo. It doesn’t look like a tapestry. It doesn’t have that materiality.”

In “Zoo, Oxford,” a monumental 2007 tapestry diptych showing a male and female rhinoceros gazing at each other across their pens, the artist went a stage further by using digitally programmed 3-D weaving techniques to simulate the skin of the animals. The 13-yard-wide work was acquired by the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, the Netherlands, after a 2017 exhibition devoted to the artist there. The purchase price was 220,000 euros, or $270,000 at current exchange rates, said Mr. Horsfield, who self-finances his tapestry projects.

“They’re so expensive to make,” he added, noting that the weaving alone of a single tapestry panel could cost more than €25,000.

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Tapestries were among recently auctioned items from North Mymms Park, a Jacobean house 17 miles north of London.

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Sworders

Mr. Perry’s much-exhibited tapestries satirizing contemporary Britain are financed by the London dealership Paragon Press. These have been selling steadily to museums and private collections at slightly lower prices, reflecting that, unlike Mr. Horsfield’s unique tapestries, they are machine-woven in editions. Of Mr. Perry’s 10 ambitious seven-yard-wide tapestries titled “The Battle of Britain,” eight have found buyers at prices up to £125,000, while the entire eight-piece edition of the more compact “Red Carpet” has sold at prices up to £65,000 each, according to Charles Booth-Clibborn, founder of Paragon Press.

“Big things are back,” Mr. Booth-Clibborn said, referring to the renewed commercial appeal of large contemporary tapestries now that “collectors are creating warehouse-style private museum spaces.”

Unique, hand-woven tapestries made today in the tradition of Leo X’s Sistine hangings are, by contrast, almost a different medium.

It took two and a half years for Dovecot Studios’ five master weavers to make Chris Ofili’s tapestry “The Caged Bird’s Song,” a one-off commission for the Clothworkers’ Company, an organization in the City of London that dates from the 16th century. The tapestry was exhibited last year at the National Gallery in the British capital, before its permanent installation in the company’s hall.

One of just two tapestry studios left in Britain, Dovecot would not divulge the cost of the commission, but it did say that just one meter, or close to a yard, of its tapestry costs £25,000 to weave. Mr. Ofili’s Trinidad-inspired landscape covers 20.7 square meters, or almost 223 square feet, implying a cost of more than £500,000 for a commission the company said would “support endangered skills and nurture talent.”

But how can you tell the difference between hand- and machine-woven tapestries, other than price?

“There’s more life to them, a bit more expression,” said Naomi Robertson, one of Dovecot’s master weavers, who chooses colors by eye and mixes dyes by hand. “We see ourselves in a 50-50 relationship with the artist. We’re expressing ourselves as we weave. We blend the colors and find the language to create the work.”

Tapestry is once again gaining value in the art world. But as with so much else in that world, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

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Sale at Heathrow Terminal 1. Everything Must Go.


More functional and bulky objects will be sold later. Among them: 110 check-in desks with scales and baggage belts, 11 baggage reclaim carousels, 15 escalators, gates, piers and complete air bridges.

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The auction house was hoping to attract bids from smaller airports for some of the bulkier and more practical items.

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CA Global Partners

Security equipment like full-body scanners and automatic passport gates will be available through private treaty sales after a security check of the buyers.

One may wonder who would want to buy reminders of sometimes frustrating moments spent lining up at the “U.K. Border” sign or staring at an empty luggage carousel.

“Some of the larger items in future auctions will be more popular with other airports,” Ms. Macquisten wrote. “We are also thinking some bars and clubs might be interested in the seating if they want some retro memorabilia in their establishments.”

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Stefan Knapp created artwork for the terminal. His murals will be part of the auction.

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CA Global Partners

Most of the artifacts are mundane, to be sure. But observers with imagination can find intriguing messages in the signs saying, “Nothing to declare” or “All Departure Gates.” Or they may find nostalgia in airline signs for Aer Lingus, TAM, Icelandair, US Airways, Air New Zealand, El Al and others.

Most of the items date to after the 1960s, but there are some exceptions, like enamel murals specially commissioned for the airport and created by Stefan Knapp, a Polish-born artist who lived and worked in Britain.

The most popular items in the early bidding wars were the clocks and a departure sign, which had attracted 141 bids by midday on Friday.

By contrast, few people seemed to want a keepsake from airport security: A foot stool used to check shoes had three bids on Friday.

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“We are also thinking some bars and clubs might be interested in the seating,” a spokeswoman for the auctioneers wrote.

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CA Global Partners

The auction could well be a hit over all if past sales linked to air travel are any guide. After Germany’s AirBerlin — the country’s second-largest airline — went bankrupt last year, a sale of its assets attracted bids from 45 countries.

The chocolate hearts the airline used to hand out to passengers went for as much as 352 euros ($435) for a box of 100.

In addition, decommissioned parts of Concorde, the supersonic passenger aircraft, have been sold at several auctions. The catalog for a charity sale in 2003 in London by Bonhams included everything from flight instruments to cutlery and a case of wine served on board.

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Heathrow’s Terminal 1 opened as a slick passenger terminal. It didn’t age well. Baggage reclaim in 1969, to the left, and 2014, to the right, a year before the terminal closed.

As for Terminal 1, it did not age well. By the time it shut down, it was handling 17 flights and 1,700 passengers a day. Its shiny, neon-lit interiors with slick lines and fixtures gave way to a patchwork of old and new surfaces.

For travelers, in the final years, the terminal was more of a drab point of transit to rush through than a place to linger.

The fate of the building, at the center of one of the busiest airports in the world, was sealed long before the coming auction. It will be demolished and the site used for the expansion of the redeveloped Terminal 2.

Queen Opens New Airport Building (1969) Video by British Pathé

The original Terminal 2, known at first as the Europa Building, was the airport’s first terminal building when it opened in 1955. It was closed to the public in 2009 and demolished in 2010, with its replacement opening in 2014. The hope is that with its expansion, it will handle about 30 million passengers.

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Even the Doors From the Chelsea Hotel Are Icons


One of the owners, Ira Drukier, said last month that 48 long-term tenants remained. He said the goal was to open rooms on the upper floors in a few months.

“We started from the top down,” he said. “We hope to have 10, 9, 8, 7 in operation before the end of the year.”

Last month the renovations reached the restaurant on the first floor, El Quijote. It will remain closed for several months while workers install support columns in the kitchen, among other things. And the tenants who are living through the renovation come and go through an unstylish vestibule that leads to a lobby that has all the charm of a construction site, although the ornate front desk is a transplant from the hotel’s earlier days.

Mr. Georgiou said he lived in the Chelsea from September 2002 to April 2011. He said he had been a principal in an internet start-up company, living on Chambers Street downtown, and witnessed the Sept. 11 attacks from his apartment. He moved out amid health problems and a financial drain, and ended up at the Chelsea.

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One of the owners, Ira Drukier, said the goal was to open rooms on the upper floors in a few months.

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Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

“When you move in there,” he said, “without getting ethereal about it, there is a sense of energy in the building.”

There was also what he called its “utopian spirit.” “They were running a business, for sure,” he said, “but there was eccentricity, kookiness, darkness, light, all of it colliding to make it a very interesting place.” That began to change after the longtime manager, Stanley Bard, was ousted in 2007 in a power struggle among the owners.

Mr. Georgiou said he had occupied Room 225, and of course it had a history. “I lived in Bob Dylan’s room,” he said. One of them, anyway. “He lived in three rooms: 211, 215 and 225,” he said.

Mr. Georgiou said he visited the building after renovations began and construction workers were in the corridors. “I said, ‘Do you guys realize what you’re doing here?’ ” he recalled. “I said: ‘This is history. I realize the building needs work, but tread lightly.’ One day I asked, ‘What are you doing with this stuff?’ They said, ‘Oh, we’re throwing it away.’ ”

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Russell Crowe Holds a ‘Divorce’ Auction (‘Gladiator’ Stuff Included)


Also on offer: a codpiece, a fully functioning copy of a Roman chariot, a wooden sword, a pair of leather wrist cuffs and life-size prop horses.

Mr. Crowe won a Best Actor Oscar for the film.

Fit to Dress a Star

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The costume worn by Mr. Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey in “Master and Commander.”

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Ben Rushton/EPA, via Shutterstock

The actor tweeted that he was putting 29 watches on the block, including a yellow-gold Rolex at a high-end estimate of 50,000 Australian dollars.

He told The Financial Times this year: “The first watch that I can remember having was a black on black Swatch.” But he said, “You could say my film career began with a fake Cartier. I wore it until the gold flaked off.”

He added, “Even though it was fake, it gave me a lot of confidence.”

Also displayed in all its glory is his costume from the 2003 period drama “Master and Commander,” in which Mr. Crowe plays Capt. Jack Aubrey, who commands the British Royal Navy frigate Surprise as it hunts down a formidable French vessel off the South American coast during the Napoleonic Wars.

Posters From a Stellar Career

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Guitars owned by the actor.

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Ben Rushton/EPA, via Shutterstock

Some critics say Mr. Crowe turned in some of his finest work in “Gladiator” and 1997’s “L.A. Confidential,” in which he played Bud, a block-headed but principled cop caught up in a torrid love triangle with a call girl played by Kim Basinger and a fellow police officer played by Guy Pearce.

Posters from his movies were expected to fetch 500 to 2,500 Australian dollars.

The actor — who has also performed as a rock singer and guitarist, with bands called 30 Odd Foot of Grunts and The Ordinary Fear of God — was also selling a trove of guitars from the 1950s onward, along with a New York-made Martin acoustic model dating to 1870 and estimated to fetch up to 100,000 Australian dollars.

There was another musical memento, too: The 1986 Grammy Award won by Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Sam Phillips, Rick Nelson and Chips Moman, for interviews from the “Class of ’55 Recording Session.” Estimated value: 200,000 to 300,000 Australian dollars.

Quirky items include Mr. Crowe’s neo-Nazi boots from the 1992 movie “Romper Somper”; a purple double-breasted suit worn by Mr. Crowe in the 1995 film “Virtuosity”; a collection of cricket memorabilia, including a New Zealand Test cricket “200 Club” bat; diamond rings, necklaces and earrings.

Items for Fat Wallets

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A 2008 custom chopper motorcycle designed and made for Mr. Crowe by Orange County Choppers, in the colors of the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league team.

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Ben Rushton/EPA, via Shutterstock

• A collection of 20th-century Australian art, including paintings by Charles Blackman and Sidney Nolan.

• Motorbikes, including one valued at 2.3 million Australian dollars.

• A 2001 Mercedes-Benz S500. Estimated value: 15,000 to 25,000 Australian dollars.

“One of Russell Crowe’s personal cars,” a note next to the car says, “this vehicle also served as one of the wedding cars on the day of his marriage to Danielle Spencer on 7 April 2003.”

The event will also raise funds for the A.C.M.F. charity, which provides free music education and instruments to disadvantaged and indigenous children and youth at risk in Sydney. It was streamed live on the actor’s Facebook page.

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Long-Lost Letter from Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac Headed to Auction (Again)


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The 16,000-word letter written by Neal Cassady, which helped inspire Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.”Credit Reuters

A rambling 1950 letter from Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac that helped inspire “On the Road” will be auctioned next month by Christie’s in New York, apparently bringing to an end an 18-month legal battle over its ownership.

The 16,000-word typed letter, which carries an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000, had been considered lost before it surfaced in the discarded files of Golden Goose Press, a now-defunct small San Francisco publisher, and listed for sale by a Southern California auction house in 2014. That auction was suspended after the Kerouac estate and Cassady’s children said they were the owners.

Jami Cassady, a spokeswoman for the family, told The San Francisco Chronicle this week that the three parties had reached “an amicable settlement.” She also said the family, which owns the copyright on the letter, intended to publish it at some point.

The missive, known as the Joan Anderson letter, after a woman with whom Cassady described an amorous relationship, had been known only from a fragment, apparently retyped by Kerouac, that was published in 1964. In an interview in 1968, Kerouac said he had got the idea of the “spontaneous style” of “On the Road” from “seeing how good old Neal Cassady wrote his letters to me, all first person, fast, mad, confessional, completely serious, all detailed, with real names in his case, however (being letters).”

“It was the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better’n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves,” Kerouac said.

After receiving the letter Kerouac lent it to Allen Ginsberg, who passed it along to another poet, who was living on a houseboat, who “lost the letter, overboard, I presume,” Kerouac said. Instead, it was sent to the offices of Golden Goose for possible publication, but went unnoticed for decades, according to Christie’s.

The letter will be on public view starting on May 31 in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and then New York, where the sale will be held on June 16.