The world's most expensive watch - pledged to Sotheby's

 

New York

A member of the Qatari royal family and one of the largest art buyers has pledged the world's most expensive watch and about 240 other collectibles to Sotheby's to cover debts owed to the auction house, according to court documents.

Sheik Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani, a cousin of the emir of Qatar, provided items from diamond jewelry to tribal art and four vintage watches made by Patek Philippe of Geneva, Switzerland, the auction house said in an Oct. 12 filing with the New York Department of State.

The timepieces include a pocket watch known as the Henry Graves Supercomplication, which an anonymous bidder bought for a record $11 million in a Sotheby's auction in 1999. In total, Sotheby's holds items valued at almost $83 million from Al-Thani, according to a court document.

Al-Thani has been hit with two lawsuits since the end of September, one alleging he failed to pay for $19.8 million of ancient Greek coins that he bid on in January. A British court, in a judgment Friday extending a freeze on $15 million of the sheik's assets at the request of the coin dealers, said Al-Thani appears to have left at least 11 auction houses and dealers unpaid in the last 18 months, including $42 million owed to Sotheby's.

Al-Thani couldn't be reached for comment. A man who identified himself as a "private employee" at an office the sheik maintains near London's Portman Square said Al-Thani was out of the country for a month. Andrew Gully, a spokesman for New York-based Sotheby's, said the firm doesn't comment on private business arrangements.

"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," said Michael Plummer, the cofounder of Artvest, a New York-based firm that provides investment advice for the art market and a former chief operating officer of the financial-services unit at auction house Christie's. Plummer said he had no knowledge of Al-Thani's specific situation.

Al-Thani formerly ran Qatar's National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage, where he spearheaded a national effort to furnish a new museum complex by spending as much as $1.5 billion on artwork and collectibles during the decade ending in 2005, according to ARTnews.

In early 2005, Al-Thani was arrested in Doha under suspicion of misusing public funds, according to ARTnews and the Telegraph newspaper in Britain. No official record could be located on whether Al-Thani was charged. A spokesman for the Qatari embassy in Washington didn't return a telephone call seeking comment.

The sheik resurfaced in the art market several years later, and ARTnews named him as one of the world's top 10 collectors in August 2011, estimating he had spent several hundred million dollars on art during the preceding two years.

"He is a connoisseur," said Peter Finer, a London-based dealer of fine antique arms and armor whose website lists clients such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Finer said that since the 1990s he has been selling items to Al-Thani, who always conducted himself "impeccably."

In January, Al-Thani successfully bid on coins including a $3.25 million single gold piece from the Ancient Greek city of Pantikapaion that bears the head of a bearded satyr, according to an Oct. 9 lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., by A.H. Baldwin & Sons of London, M&M Numismatics of Washington and Dmitry Markov Coins and Medals of New York.

Al-Thani hasn't paid for any of the coins, and the plaintiffs are charging the sheik monthly interest of 2 percent, according to Friday's ruling in London.

"This pattern of behaviour is both unexplained and inexplicable," the London court said in Friday's order. "The sheik's royal status is irrelevant. We are all equal in the eyes of the law."

Al-Thani attorney Stephen Rubin declined to comment. Michael Ward, an attorney at SJ Berwin, a firm that is also representing the sheik, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

The Sotheby's filing reveals for the first time that Al- Thani is the owner of the Graves Supercomplication, which has a star chart showing changes in the night sky over Manhattan and a minute recorder that plays the same melody as Big Ben, the bell of the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster in London. Following the 1999 Sotheby's sale, the pocket watch went on display as part of the Patek Philippe Museum's collection in Geneva.

 

— With assistance from Dermot Doherty in Geneva , Robert Tuttle in Doha and Devon Pendleton in London.

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker