Eccentricity! That was Andy Warhol’s middle name. Everything about him, right from his work of art to his open defiance to rules, caught the eye. He was also an obsessive collector, who would collect the object of his affection and store them in boxes that he aptly called “time capsules”. Approximately half a million objects were stored in 610 of those boxes! Boy! No wonder he was also termed a “pathological collector” by many.
And what did the boxes contain? No one knew until many years later after the artist’s death, the archivists at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh dug into 19 of his time capsules. It contained things that he bought, including objects like shoelaces, hundreds of cookie jars of just about every possible shape, chewing gums, airsickness bags, Campbell soups (they feature in his art, too!). And things from his daily life, like restaurant bills to records of Chubby Checker and even a single mummified human foot from ancient Egypt (seems he had quite a foot fetish!). And since none of them were officially catalogued, Sotheby’s auction listed only a few of these items. It was catalogued in a glossy six-volume catalogue, aptly called “The Andy Warhol Collection”.
Ah, but the passion (or obsession?) did not stop at that. Being an artist, he also valued other art forms. So he even had hooked rugs; various forms of pottery; shop signs; cigars; drawings from Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, among others; precious jewellery, Bvlgari gold and silver coin necklaces, pearls, Cartier brooches, and many more.
So how could watches be left out? He had Art Deco, Disney, Cartier, and Rolex watches. His personal favourite was the hand-wound Cartier Tank, with an 18k yellow-gold bezel and a crocodile strap. The fun part is he never wound the watch, adorning it more for its ornamental beauty than as a time keeping machine. “I wear a Tank because it’s the watch to wear,” he would often say. In the auction of The Andy Warhol Collection by Sotheby’s in 1998, Mr. David Stickelber bought this piece. He proudly displayed it in an illuminated shadowbox frame with a copy of the catalogue it came with. News is that post his death, the watch underwent the auction hammer for around $2500.
In the same year, Warhol’s Rolex was also sold off for $1,900. It is a solid rose-gold piece with a steel and rose gold braclet. While the colour of the bracelet and the case look similar, a closer look reveals otherwise. That’s because Warhol himself added the bracelet to it, post purchase. The dial has a silver tone, and the numerals are in rose gold. The hours and minutes hands are in blue, while seconds dial at 6 o’clock sports a rose gold hand. There is an engraving on the back of the case, which reads “Russell R. Brown”. Brown was the original owner of the watch before Warhol purchased it. The watch remained in private hands, until its appearance in 2012 where it was sold for approximately $35,000.