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Sotheby’s reaps rewards of world’s most expensive watch

by Michael Weare
30 November, 2012
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Sheikh Saud bin Ali Al Thani

This article was written and contributed by Simon Lazarus who writes for a number of national and international publications.

They say time waits for no man which is certainly true for one of the richest men in the world. According to recent reports, a member of the Qatari royal elite has donated the most expensive timepiece in the world to Sotheby’s in London.

Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali al-Thani who is one of the cousins to the actual ruler of Qatar has offered a number of items in order to repay debts he owed to the world famous auctioneers.

This included a wealth of exclusive diamond jewellery, ethnic art and most importantly a handful of glorious Patek Philippe Swiss made watches.

Filed documents by the New York Department of State showed 240 separate items that were to be sold off at auction. And the value of this collection – a cool $83 million.

Henry Graves Supercomplication

Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication

One of the featured items is the Henry Graves Supercomplication, which an unknown bidder purchased at Sotheby’s in 1999 for more than US$10m.

Filed documents from Sotheby’s actually reveal that Al-Thani is the proud owner of the Graves Supercomplication. Set your faces to stunned and admire this gorgeous feat of haute horology.

Highlights to this model include a star chart portraying significant changes to the Manhattan skyline at night as well as a minute recorder which chimes to the same iconic Big Ben tune that sits proudly in the Palace of Westminster.

Meanwhile Al-Thani has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently thanks to two separate lawsuits in as many months.

The first was allegedly failing to find nearly US$20m for a set of coins from Ancient Greece while he is also believed to have not paid for several items from 11 auction houses over an 18 month period.

The dealers’ QC, Jeffrey Gruder, likened Sheikh Saud to an ‘inveterate gambler’ who could not stop himself spending millions on objects of his desire before walking away from his obligations.

‘He bids, wins and then doesn’t pay. One can only conclude that this is a person acting dishonourably and disreputably. He is bidding when he knows he’s not going to be able to pay,’ the barrister claimed.

Among this is the whopping $42 million he owed directly to Sotheby’s. Michael Plummer, former CFO at Christie’s declared in the Independent: “It’s not unheard of in the auction business, when clients run into cash problems, for auction houses to take property in lieu of payment.”

According to Martin Robinson writing in the Daily Mail, in 2005 the Sheikh’s spree came to a dramatic end when he was placed under house arrest in Qatar. He allegedly used a London dealer to fake invoices, misleading the Qatari government about the value of the items he was buying. He was sacked from the country’s national culture council.Yet just last year, a source from ARTnews declared him as a major player in the art collector world ranking him among the top 10 collectors in the entire world. And just last month he was seen at the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht.

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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