Gold pocket watch recovered from Titanic’s wealthiest passenger sells for nearly $1.5M

John Jacob Astor IV's gold pocket watch that was recovered from his body after the Titanic sank has sold for a record total of nearly $1.5 million. (Henry Aldridge & Son LTD / Fox News)/New York financier John Jacob Astor IV drowned in the Titani

A gold pocket watch worn by the richest passenger aboard the Titanic when the ill-fated ocean liner sank was sold at auction on Saturday for a record-breaking sum of nearly $1.5 million.

The timepiece belonged to John Jacob Astor IV, a New York business magnate and real estate developer, and was expected to sell for about $189,000 at auction, according to auction house Henry Aldridge and Son in Wiltshire, England. The watch’s casing is engraved with Astor’s initials "JJA."

The 14-carat heirloom, however, ended up selling for a total of $1.485 million, Henry Aldridge and Son told Fox News Digital on Sunday. 

The watch was one of several items recovered from Astor’s body after the ship struck an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912, during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City.

Astor, 47, went down with the ship after helping his wife Madeleine, who was pregnant, onto a lifeboat. 

When Astor was told he could not join his wife until all women and children had boarded lifeboats, Titanic folklore says the businessman stepped back, lit a final cigarette and tossed his gloves to Madeleine. 

It is said that Astor then went to smoke his cigarette with author Jacques Futrelle, who also died.

After the watch was recovered from Astor's body, the auction house said Astor's son Vincent gave it to the son of William Dobbyn, Astor's executive secretary, as a christening gift. The watch was eventually returned to the Astor family and underwent restoration. 


In addition to Astor’s gold watch, the auction also sold Wallace Hartley’s bag, which held the famous Titanic violin that the bandmaster played as the ship sank. 

The bag was initially estimated to sell for around $150,000. The auction house confirmed that the relic went for $454,949 at auction on Saturday.

The leather case was found strapped to Hartley’s body when it was recovered. The violin, the most valuable Titanic-related item in existence, is on display at the Titanic Belfast Museum.

Astor’s Titanic plan, showing the layout of the ocean liner, was also sold, for $37,912.

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