A rare Rolex watch owned by the late movie star Paul Newman has been sold for a world record $17.7 million.
It had been expected to sell for around $1.3 but after fierce bidding, the iconic watch was won by an anonymous applicant for more than 13 times the asking price.
The legendary actor received the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona as a present from his wife Joanne Woodward in 1968 and later gifted it to his daughter’s then-boyfriend.
Paul Newman is seen wearing his iconic Rolex, a gift from his wife that he wore every day for more than 15 years
She bought the timepiece from the prestigious Tiffany & Co store in New York and had it engraved with the message ‘drive carefully’ in light of her husband’s fledgling motor racing career.
Newman wore it daily for more than 15 years before passing it on to his daughter’s then boyfriend, James Cox, while he stayed with the family one summer in the early 1980s.
Mr Cox didn’t own a watch at the time so Newman gave him one which he said ‘keeps good time’.
Following his separation with Nell Newman, the pair remained good friends and they consigned the watch together at auction.
It had been expected to sell for $1.3million but there was huge interest in the timepiece and it eventually sold to an anonymous phone bidder for £13,545,848 ($17,730,973) with fees added on.
Expensive: The watch had been expected to sell for $1.3million but it eventually sold to an anonymous phone bidder for $17,730,973
Inscription: Newman’s wife Joanne had it engraved with the message ‘drive carefully’ in light of her husband’s fledgling motor racing career.
Nell and James had previously stated proceeds of the sale would go to the Nell Newman Foundation which supports environmental projects.
The price is a world record for a wristwatch sold at auction.
Paul Boutros, head of watches at New York-based Phillips Auctioneers, said: ‘It was an absolute privilege for Phillips to offer Paul Newman’s own ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona – arguably the most iconic collector’s wristwatch of the 20th century.
‘The atmosphere in the room was electric throughout the entire sale.
Good cause: The proceeds of the sale will go to the Nell Newman Foundation which supports environmental projects
‘This record result is a testament to the historic importance and continued legacy of this Rolex, which is responsible for creating an entirely new market and inspiring a new generation of collectors.’
The Rolex is made out of stainless steel between 1963 and 1970 and became known as the ‘Paul Newman watch’.
It is 36.5mm in diameter and has a leather strap.
Mr Boutros said: ‘Paul Newman wore the watch daily until 1983 when he gifted it to James Cox, the boyfriend of his daughter Nell.
‘They dated for 10 years and have remained close friends so are consigning this item together with the proceeds going to her foundation.
‘James stayed with the family one summer in Westport, Connecticut and built up a friendship with Paul Newman.
‘He never wore a watch so when he was asked the time he would say ‘it’s a hair past a freckle’.
‘One day, James was building a treehouse and Paul Newman came outside and asked him the time.
‘James gave his usual answer and Paul Newman threw him the Rolex. He said ‘take this – it keeps good time’.
‘Paul Newman’s second life was as a racing driver but he had a serious motorbike accident so his wife was concerned about him racing.
Daily accessory: The legendary actor received the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona in 1968 and later gifted it to his daughter’s then-boyfriend
‘This explains the engraving with the message ‘drive carefully’.
‘It is a legendary timepiece which belonged to a legendary actor and this makes it especially desirable for collectors.
‘Paul Newman was not a hoarder of watches and this was his watch for many years.’
Paul Newman won an Academy Award for his performance in the 1986 film The Color of Money.
His other notable films include The Hustler (1961), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Verdict (1982).
As well as being one of the most iconic actors of all time, he was also a respected racing driver who won numerous races in the 1970s including four national championships and in 1979 came second in the prestigious Le Mans 24 hour race.
He died aged 83 in 2008.