After some 69 years in showbiz, Sir Michael Cain still has plenty of fans.
The acclaimed British actor teamed up with Bonhams this week to auction a collection of personal items garnered throughout his illustrious film career, and subsequently sparked a frenzied bidding war among collectors. All 183 lots on offer at Wednesday’s sale sold to realize roughly $1.1 million (£847,000) in full. The highlight was, of course, Cain’s personal Rolex, which shattered pre-auction estimates to set a new record for the model.
The timepiece in question is an 18-karat yellow gold Oysterquartz Day Date that the legendary leading man reportedly wore on-screen in several films, such as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and A Shock to the System. It was also his go-to off-duty wristwatch, according to the auction house. Known officially as ref. 19018, it was originally expected to fetch between $10,500 and $15,800, but it attracted a number of aggressive bidders and ended up reaching $166,500. Bonhams says this is a new auction world record for this particular model.
“This was a fantastic result,” Jonathan Darracott, Bonhams Global Head of Watches, said in a statement. “The Rolex Oysterquartz was a groundbreaking watch cased in typical Rolex style but it was really the stardust of Sir Michael Caine that captured the imagination of our bidders with frenzied bidding until the last two battled for the last few bids.”
Not just a Rolex guy, Cain had other watches on offer that all eclipsed original estimates. The 88-year-old’s titanium Breitling Navitimer, which was a regular fixture on his wrist in the late 1990s and early 2000s, hammered down for $14,300. It was initially expected to pull in between $927 and $1,191.
Similarly, a carbon-fiber Traser H3 Black Storm Pro, which Cain wore at the London premiere of Batman Begins in 2005, sold for $5,400 after originally receiving an estimate of just $132 to $199. A Patek Philippe La Flamme owned by the actor’s wife, Lady Shakira, also sold for an unexpectedly high $25,100 (estimate: $6,620–$9,268).
It wasn’t just the watches exceeding estimates, either. Two pairs of Cain’s trademark glasses sold for $5,400 (estimate: $1,000–$1,635 for both), while a portrait of the actor by John Bratby sold for $41,707 (estimate: $2,648–$3,972).
“It’s going to be quite a wrench to part with so many treasured parts of my life and career, but it’s the right time to be moving on,” Caine said prior to the auction. “I hope these mementos will give their new owners as much pleasure as they have given us.”