Momentum for the winter auction season has, no doubt, been steadily accelerating. But Phillips has just given the whole engine a potent dose of rocket fuel. The preeminent auction house has just announced that at their 2020 December sale in New York, the team will be offering up another Rolex Daytona owned by Hollywood screen legend Paul Newman.
This time it’s a “Big Red” Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, which was given to Newman by his wife, Joanne Woodward on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary, in 1983. Newman then went on to entrust the watch to his daughter, Clea Newman Soderlund, in 2008, who is now directly consigning the sale of said watch. A portion of the sales proceeds will benefit multiple charities that were founded by Paul Newman.
Phillips has listed the watch with a conservative estimate of $1 million, but we all know what happened the last time Paul Newman’s “Paul Newman” went on auction.
But that’s not all. The 2020 New York sale will be a twin hitter this time with one of six McQueen Monacos from the film Le Mans, also listed in the catalog. The Heuer Monaco, in question was a prop obtained for Steve McQueen for the 1971 passion project film, Le Mans. In an interview with quillandpad.com, Don Nunley, the prop master for Le Mans, recounts the entire tale of the challenge of finding McQueen the right wristwatch for the film, who was at the height of his career at this point after the success that was The Thomas Crown Affair and Bullitt.
This isn’t the first time that a McQueen Monaco from the film has turned up in auction. The initial instance was in 2009 with Antiquorum, who hammered the lot in for USD 87,600. In 2012, liveauctioneers.com sold either another instance for USD 799,500.
The latest instance with Phillips is bound to break the last figure because it’s made special by the caseback engraving we see on it. It reads: “TO HAIG LE MANS 1970”. Haig, being the name of one Haig Altounian who was the chief mechanic on the Le Mans set. Haig Altounian’s story is recorded on gq.com as it played out on set at Le Mans: “Haig Altounian, was already attending to the car when McQueen walked over, took the blocky Monaco off his wrist, and offered it up. ‘I want to thank you for keeping me alive all these months,’ he said, according to Altounian. Altounian demurred at first. Didn’t McQueen want to give it to his son? The mechanic demurred until he couldn’t anymore. It’s too late, McQueen finally said. ‘It’s got your name on it.’”
Mark your calendars for 12 December, when both watches will go under the hammer at Phillips’ live online auction from New York, which is surely going to be a great way to cap off the auction season and 2020, a year that has been everything and nothing, all at the same time.