QP looks at the Hollywood legend’s watches going under the hammer in Sydney this week as part of Sotheby’s, Russell Crowe: The Art of Divorce sale.
by James Buttery
Even discounting his early work (Neighbours for instance) Russell Crowe has been a leading man for nearly 30 years, since his powerful breakthrough role in Romper Stomper in 1992.
As with any job held for any length of time, Crowe has amassed a great deal of career-related ephemera, so much so that this week he will sell a chunk of his collected memorabilia to fund his recent divorce at Sotheby’s in Sydney in the aptly titled Russell Crowe: The Art of Divorce. The auction also takes place on Crowe’s birthday which is also, cuttingly, his wedding anniversary.
Some of the items up for sale come as no surprise – Maximus’ breastplate from Gladiator (Lot 10, est. £11,000-£16,400) and the antique violin he played in Master and Commander (Lot 31, est. £60,000-£76,000) – but others give an intriguing insight into the man himself, lots such as Errol Flynn’s costume from Don Juan (Lot 55, est. £5,470-£11,000) and a host of art, guitars, custom motorcycles and sporting memorabilia.
As we pointed out some time ago, the final 28 lots on the day (a platinum Vacheron Constantin has been withdrawn from the sale) are watches that Crowe has collected along the way. While some will be sought after (even without the Hollywood connection) others show a ‘kitchen sink’ approach to collecting. However almost every piece comes with a story of provenance surrounding its acquisition and a signed letter of authenticity.
Certain watches are pieces Crowe mentions associating with certain film shoots such a brace of Panerais (Lot 198, est. £3,280-£4,920 and Lot 199, est. £3,280-£4,920) bought around the time when he played a hostage retrieval expert in Proof of Life.
Others actually found their way onto screen such as the Breitling Emergency (Lot 201, est. £1,370-£1,914) he wore playing Leonardo Dicaprio’s CIA handler in Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies.
There are genuinely attractive pieces such as a 2006 IWC Portuguese Laureus Sport for Good Automatic Chronograph (Lot 225, est. £4,375-£6,560), and a platinum Rolex Cellini (Lot 217, est. £4,375-£6,560) bought during the American Gangster shoot.
Some stories add to the mythos of modern classics such as the quartz 18ct white gold Cartier Tank Americaine chronograph (Lot 206, est. est. £4,375-£6,560) bought in Rome after Gladiator was released. When he emerged from the boutique a crowd had descended on the street wanting to see the actor behind General Maximus.
However some of Crowe’s tales of provenance are somewhat sketchy, he lists a limited edition Breitling Avenger Seawolf with SAS insignia as being bought from a serving member of the Special Air Service (Lot 202, est. est. £1,100-£2,200) in Manchester on the night of the Kostya Tzu vs Ricky Hatton fight in 2005, which to us at least sounds like a ‘man down the pub’ story.
There are also a couple of inclusions we really think Crowe should consider withdrawing from the sale which are surely deserving of their place in any self-respecting watch collection, such as a savoury black dialled Giuiano Mazzuoli Manometro (Lot 220, est. £820-£1,100) and a modern Omega Speedmaster (Lot 214, est. £2,190-£3,280) bought by Crowe to replace one given to him by director Ron Howard, which he in turn gave to his brother.
The actor’s love of watches and sport even crossover in the form of a 18ct yellow gold Rolex Daytona (Lot 207, est. £21,885-£27,356) bought and engraved to celebrate his part acquisition of the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league club in 2004.
But if nothing there takes your fancy perhaps you’d be interested in the selection of women’s jewellery as Crowe is also selling a number of lots that he originally bought for his now ex-wife.
Russell Crowe: The Art of Divorce sale takes place in Sydney on April 7th at 8am GMT.
Images: Sotheby’s Australia