They made auctioneer Aurel Bacs an offer he couldn’t refuse. An anonymous telephone bidder paid $1.95 million for the Rolex GMT-Master owned by Marlon Brando and worn by the legendary actor in the movie Apocalypse Now.
The watch is notable for missing the 24-hour bezel that GMT-Master is known for—Brando is said to have popped it off on set of the movie—and inscribed with his name on the back. The piece was considered missing by Rolex collectors until it came up for auction at Phillips’ Game Changers sale in New York held on December 10.
The watch, put up for auction by the Godfather actor’s daughter Petra Brando Fischer, smashed the record for a GMT-Master reference 1675 at auction. The proceeds of the sale and the commission of auction house Phillips will be donated to the Brando Fischer Foundation which helps children in poverty.
Bidding on the lot ran for nearly the length of the movie it was featured in. Three bidders—two on the phone and an Internet bidder in Japan—upping the number in $10,000 increments. With patience in the New York auction room wearing thin, the Japanese bidder dropped out and a phone bidder won one of Hollywood’s most famous timepieces.
Twelve lots earlier in the night a Rolex Day-Date in gold owned by golfer Jack Nicklaus sold for $1.22 million including commission. The watch is possibly the most famous example of the Rolex Day-Date, having been photographed on Nicklaus’s wrist for a majority of the 18 golf majors he won.
Like the Brando watch, the sale of Nicklaus’s Rolex—the only one he has ever worn—will benefit charity. In this case proceeds will go to the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.
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