Legendary actor Michael Caine recently decided to do what so many other people do: downsize and sell personal belongings at an estate sale.
Except Caine's "estate sale" was at Bonhams auction house in London, and his personal belongings sold for thousands of dollars, including his Rolex watch that set a new world record for the model after fetching $166,500. Its presale estimate was $10,500-$15,800, but heated bidding skyrocketed the price.
Bonhams said Caine and his wife, Lady Shakira Caine, decided to downsize to live at "a more leisurely pace" and were ready to part with many mementos, including ones he collected from his illustrious movie career.
Sir Michael Caine: The Personal Collection brought a total of roughly $1.1 million, around half a million more than the expected estimate. The 183 lots offered on March 2 featured a wide assortment of personal accessories and other watches, his movie memorabilia, and art.
"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."
Caine bought the 18-karat yellow gold watch in the late 1970s and wore it during numerous roles, including one of his most famous as Lawrence Jamieson in the 1988 comedy, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with Steve Martin. It was also his go-to off-duty timepiece.
The auction had a 100-percent sell-through rate, with everything selling above presale estimates, including several other watches: a Traser H3 Black Storm Pro, circa 2000, that Caine wore to the London premiere of Batman Begins, sold for $4,270, soaring past the estimate of $133-$200; Lady Caine's Patek Philippe La Flamme, circa 1990, featuring a cream sigma dial with diamond-set hour markers and a diamond-set bezel, sold for $33,400 against an estimate of $6,680-$9,350; and a Breitling Navitimer sold for $14,300, far exceeding the estimate of $935-$2,100. Launched in 1985, Caine was an early fan of the Breitling Aerospace titanium analog and LCD digital display bracelet watch, said Bonhams, and it was one of the most worn watches in his collection.
"The Breitling Aerospace was on Sir Michael's wrist in 2008 when he was quite literally cemented into history, signing his name and placing his hand and footprints into the 'Forecourt of the Stars' outside the legendary Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood," said Bonhams.
Other highlights include a portrait of the actor by John Bratby that sold for $41,707 (estimate was $2,648-$3,972); two pairs of Cain's trademark glasses that sold for $5,400 (estimate was $1,000-$1,635 for both); and a portrait by artist Lincoln Townley that fetched $25,370 (estimate was $13,350-$20,000), all proceeds of which are going to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, a charity the Caines have long supported.
Few film actors have been at the top of their game for as long as Sir Michael Caine, who will turn 89 on March 14. His career has spanned six decades and he has lent presence and distinction to every role he has undertaken – from the era-defining Alfie to classic films such as Get Carter, Zulu and Educating Rita to his Oscar-winning performances in Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules and several Batman movies, playing beloved butler, Alfred.
"Sir Michael Caine is a cinema legend. It has been an incredible honor to be entrusted with his personal collection, and it is no wonder it inspired such passionate bidding in this blockbuster sale," said Charlie Thomas, Bonhams Director of House Sales and Iconic Collections.
"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 in a press release prior to the auction. "I hope these mementos will give their new owners as much pleasure as they have given us."
For more results, visit Bonhams.