Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Another Steve McQueen Submariner?

Loren Janes Submariner

The Rolex Phoenix That Rose From The Flame

Update June 10, 2PM PST: Many puzzle pieces are falling into place in this bizarre Rolex mystery. 

Below is another piece of new evidence in this case that shows Loren Janes Submariner after it was found in the rubble after the fire that burned his house to the ground. The fire consumed everything, and the only item that made it through the fire was Loren Janes Rolex Submariner which is pictured below with serious fire damage. It is remarkable it made it through the fire in one piece.

In the photos above we see Loren Janes Rolex with the severe fire damage. Below, we see Loren Janes Rolex after Rolex U.S.A. technicians were able to successfully restore the watch, which is pretty amazing if you ask me!!!

In the photos below we see Loren Janes house on fire as it burned down.

Loren Janes spoke with his two children before the fire and asked them if there was anything they wanted him to leave them. His daughter Erika said she wanted his Rolex Submariner. Erika told me in an interview: "I mentioned to my dad that I wanted his Rolex Submariner. I wanted it because my dad wore it my entire life. I remember playing and being fascinated with it when I was a young girl. My brother Eric is really easy-going and isn't materialistic at all, and he said, 'sure' that's fine Erika, you take Dad's watch.

After the fire burned down Loren Janes home, everything was destroyed. The fire marshal said nobody should sift through the rubble as nothing could have possibly survived the intense fire exposure. 

Erika said, "Everybody advised against going through the rubble, which was highly toxic. I told my brother, Eric, I wanted to go looking through the rubble for dad's Rolex. He said no, and insisted he would instead."

"My stepmother asked my brother to look through the rubble and see if there was anything that was salvageable. In particular, she was hoping he would find her diamond wedding rin—to no avail."

"After the first hour, it looked unlikely we would find anything. I told my brother to dig where I thought dad's Rolex was likely to be, after a half hour he gave up and said he couldn't find it. I insisted he go back until he found it. In my gut, I knew it was there!"

After another half hour, he walked up to me with his hand out and said, 'I found dad's Rolex for you!" Erica took the photos above and below of her brother sifting through the rubble.

This reminds me of Jacques Cousteau saying, "People protect what they love." Erika loved her dad's Rolex Submariner, and like a phoenix, it rose from the flames and flew back to her.

Just Got Off The Phone with

Chad McQueen

Update June 9, 4PM PST: I just got done speaking with Chad McQueen regarding the provenance on the Rolex Submariner in question. Chad, just like his father Steve is one really cool dude! We talked about many different aspects of this historical investigation including various inconsistencies in the timelines...

Chad said the McQueen legal team is working on this case and they will release a statement as soon as they draw their conclusions. Stay tuned for much more...

Chad and I also discussed the Rolex Submariner he is wearing in the photo above which his father gave him before he passed away. The photo of Chad wearing his father's Steve McQueen Submariner was taken back in the 1980s, and certainly possesses the greatest provenance and pedigree...

There Is A Flipside To Every Watch

Update June 9, 12:30AM PST: I just got done interviewing Loren Janes daughter about this story. We spoke for several hours and she shared her entire story with me and I have to say I was stunned!!! I don't feel comfortable writing an update now as there is so much detail to share. I will be publishing a super-detailed update story as soon as I can complete it that shows the flip-side of the coin! Loren Janes daughter shared a number of photos with me, so I thought I would start by sharing this first one with you now...Much more to come!!!

Signed 1966 Photo of Steve McQueen from The Movie Nevada Smith 
From Steve McQueen with a message to Loren Janes

It Happens All The Time Dude!!!

Update June 8, 5:45PM PST: Just when I thought things couldn't get any more sideways with this story, they did...

I interviewed legendary stuntman Mickey Gilbert today regarding this story. Mickey is the real deal and his IMDB Filmography is stunningly impressive. Mickey did a lot of stunt doubling for Robert Redford, including in Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, as well as in the Horse Whisper. He also worked on Ben Hur, The Last Of The Mohicans, and Little Big Man.

Mickey Gilbert was the Stunt Coordinator and doubled Steve McQueen on the 1972 Rodeo movie titled Junior Bonner. I briefed him on this story, then I asked Mickey about Loren Janes participation in the movie as it appears on the provenance letter that authenticated the watch. Mickey laughed and said: 

"Loren Janes wasn't there!?!! He had nothing whatsoever to do with the movie. Besides, Junior Bonner was a rodeo movie and Loren wasn't much of a horseman. I grew up on a ranch and competed in rodeos when I was a young man. It doesn't surprise me to learn this about Loren as he exaggerated a lot!" 

At the end of our superb conversation, Mickey thanked me for sharing this crazy story with him. He laughed and said, "This story is like a comedy sequence that's all lies."

The trailer for Junior Bonner is seen below and we see Mickey Gilbert stunt-doubling Steve McQueen—NOT Loren Janes:

With the advent of Mickey's confirmation, this makes four movies that Loren Janes provenance letter said he was in, but was not. I have even more crazy news coming up in this story, so keep your seatbelt fastened!!! 


Update June 7, 12PM PST: As mentioned yesterday, I reached out to Chad McQueen for comment on his father's watch. Below is the official response I received:

"Dear Jake: Thank you for your inquiry regarding the watch allegedly gifted by Steve McQueen to Loren Janes and currently advertised for auction. Mr. Chad McQueen disagrees with the information and claims published regarding the purported authenticity and pedigree of this watch."

I also significantly updated this story today, and I moved all of the prior updates in this story to the very bottom of this story if you want to check them out.

Loren Janes 


A Gift From Steve McQueen To His Stuntman?

Coming To Philipps Auction House

Rolex Submariner
Reference 5512

What is cooler than a story Steve McQueen story? A story about Steve McQueen and Rolex, coupled inside a peculiar mystery...

Phillips Auction house will soon be auctioning this Rolex Submariner in New York which belonged to Loren Janes and as we see in the photo below has an engraving on the back that reads, "LOREN, THE BEST DAMN STUNTMAN IN THE WORLD. —STEVE."

What Do You Do For An Encore After Paul Newman?

It's All Downhill From There

Forbes Magazine published a story earlier today named: "The Secret History of Steve McQueen's Rolex Submariner", which I highly recommend reading. The article includes the fascinating video below:

I must mention there are some strange inconsistencies in this video. In particular, Paul Butros says @ :12, "It was owned and worn by Steve McQueen himself." Also @ :51 he says, "Accompanied with the watch we have a folio with some images of Steve McQueen wearing the watch." This is not really possible as Steve McQueen first began wearing a Rolex Submariner in 1970, and Loren Janes claimed and was witnessed wearing it in 1968. I go more into detail on this incorrect statement later in this story.

Phillips Auction House, which will be auctioning Loren Janes Rolex Submariner famously auctioned Paul Newman's Exotic Dial Daytona recently for $17.8 Million. 

Loren Janes Submariner

Loren Janes was Steve McQueen's stunt double on many films, and in the photo below we see him wearing his Rolex Submariner. 

Loren Janes Submariner comes with some interesting provenance documents, including the letter Loren Janes supposedly wrote and signed several months before he passed away on June 24, 2017. A challenge is that Loren Janes was 85 when he passed away, and unfortunately, he was suffering from an advanced level Alzheimer's disease. 

Update: On June 6, 11:38AM PST: I spoke with Gary Combs who was a leading Hollywood Stunt Coordinator and Stuntman. Gary doubled Steve McQueen in the movies Tom Horn and The Getaway. He was also the stunt Coordinator on Tom Horn and The Hunter. After careful evaluation, Gary confirmed the content of the letter above was factually incorrect and clearly written by somebody who had no real knowledge of Loren Janes lack of involvement in Tom Horn and The Getaway. Gary confirmed that Loren Janes did NOT participate in any way in either movie nor was he on the set.

Update: On June 6, 3:04PM PST: I spoke with Don Nunley who was a close friend of Steve McQueen as well as being the property master on the Steve McQueen movie titled "Le Mans" which was filmed in 1971. He recently wrote a book about his pal named "Steve McQueen, Le Mans in the Rearview Mirror." Don Nunley said that Loren Janes was not involved in any way shape or form in Le Mans, and if anybody would know, it would be the Le Mans Property Master. So here we have a second witness who tells us the provenance letter is inaccurate. Don wears a Rolex Submariner and in the future, I plan to interview him about his book. In the meantime, I put a video at the end of this story about his Steve McQueen book. Don also was a close friend of former Rolex U.S.A. Executive, T. Walker Lloyd and we traded some stories about T.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but I question the veracity of this provenance letter seen above since Loren Janes was non compos mentis on the date he would have signed this letter. In other words, Loren didn't even know his own name.

This is a devastating story on many levels, as you can see in the video below. It's also hard to believe that an 85 years-old man whose home tragically burned to the ground with all his worldly possessions had custom stationary printed within a half year so he could write such a provenance letter. 

I might be way off base with my analysis, but there are a number of unanswered questions and inconsistencies surrounding this story. To the best of my knowledge, Steve McQueen first began wearing a Rolex Submariner in 1971 just before he was filming his racing movie titled Le Mans. I believe the first photo I have ever documented of Steve McQueen [seen below] wearing a Rolex Submariner was taken when he was racing during The 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race held at the Sebring International Raceway in Florida in 1970.

Loren Janes claimed in a 2011 Wall Street Journal interview that in 1968 while performing car stunts for the major motion picture named 'Bullitt' he already had received the 1964 Submariner with the engraving on the back from Steve McQueen. The following excerpt is from the 2011 WSJ interview:

"When the filming of "Bullitt" ended, McQueen offered Mr. Janes one of the three tricked-out Mustangs used in the film. Mr. Janes passed, fearful he would always want to drive it too fast. "Besides, I already had this," he said, removing a 1964 Rolex Submariner from his wrist. On the back was an inscription: "To the best damn stuntman in the world. Steve."

It is interesting to note that the actual engraving on the back of the watch is different than what is cited in the Wall Street Journal article. In other words, the WSJ quote above begins, "To the best..." but the watch engraving reads "Loren. The best..."

If you study this timeframe, this would mean Steve McQueen would have had to purchase the Submariner sometime between 1964 and 1968 and have it engraved, and offered it as a gift before he owned and wore a Submariner himself? For the record, this would mean the watch that is visible in EVERY KNOWN PHOTO OF STEVE MCQUEEN WEARING A SUBMARINER COULD NOT POSSIBLY THE SAME WATCH LOREN JANES WORE!!!

In other words, the image above which is a screen capture from Phillips website page that is dedicated to this watch auction showcase shows Loren Janes Rolex Submariner which is up for auction on top of a photo of Steve McQueen taken in 1973 on the set of Papillon taken in Jamaica. This disingenuous photo juxtaposes Loren Janes Rolex Submariner as if to suggest it is the same watch, but in reality, it is next to impossible as Loren Janes claimed he was already wearing his Submariner in 1968 [as he was quoted in the Wall Street Jornal article cited above]. 

Fellow Stuntman and the first man to drive on land beyond the speed of sound Stan Barrett confirmed this to be a fact as he specifically recalled this fact. Stan said, "Back in 1968 I was working with Loren Janes, and I noticed he was wearing a Rolex Submariner. Being a huge Rolex fan myself, I was checking out his Submariner and I remembered commenting it was pretty thick.

Stan Barrett pictured above with Paul Newman in 1975

Stan Barrett ironically was one of the top stuntmen in Hollywood at the time, and he said in a recent interview:

"Not only do I not recall seeing an engraving on the back of Loren Janes Rolex Submariner, but trust me, if it had an engraving that reads: "LOREN. THE BEST DAMN STUNTMAN IN THE WORLD. —STEVE" I would have remembered it —for sure!!! Also, if the engraving was on the watch from Steve McQueen it's certain Loren would have shown it to me."

"Not only was I Paul Newman's stunt double and best friend, but I also doubled Steve McQueen on Papillon in 1972 in Jamaica. If Loren was 'the best damn stuntman in the world', then why would Steve McQueen request me to do the stunts on Papillon, as well as on The Towering Inferno? I had to turn down Towering Inferno as I had to have a fractured kneecap removed. Don't get me wrong, Loren Janes was an amazing athlete, but he was not regarded as near the best in many categories. Also, if Loren was the best stuntman in the world, why would Steve McQueen request Gary Combs on other films? At Gary's request, Steve McQueen offered Loren the stuntwork in The Hunter." 

"I hired Loren Janes many times when I was doing stunt coordinating on TV Series and movies including Dan August and Airport 77, and other films I was coordinating, and I can assure you although Loren was a good stuntman, he was nowhere near the best. I felt obligated to help Loren get work as he had introduced me to my wife."

"It was a well known fact in the stunt community that Bill Hickman, Cary Loften and Bud Ekins were credited with doing the amazing car chase in Bullitt. As a matter of fact, Steve McQueen was an excellent driver and did a lot of the driving himself—so much so he almost got killedI take huge exception for people who try to take credit for things they did not do."

Back to the Philipps Steve McQueen showcase article, I find Phillips title and subtitle to be highly misleading hyperbole that is not only bombastic but also terribly inaccurate. By having a title that reads: "Phillips To Sell Steve McQueen's Rolex Submariner", suggests to the casual reader that Steve McQueen only wore one Submariner and that it is up for auction. This is a radical exaggeration. The title should be "Philipps To Sell Loren Janes Rolex Submariner." I will point out there is ZERO evidence to suggest Steve McQueen ever wore this watch.

Phillips further exaggerates this point in the subtitle when they say: "Phillips returns to New York on October 25 with another iconic Rolex, owned and worn by one of America's most well-known actors. After Paul Newman's "Paul Newman", it's time for Steve McQueen's Submariner." 

Wait a minute!?!! Let's back up for a moment here. While it is true that Phillips recently hit the mother of all grand-slams with the very successful auctioning of Paul Newman's Paul Newman Daytona for $17.8 Million, they are attempting to stretch terribly to draw a highly false analogy to this watch. This reminds me of people who are ambitious and successful but exaggerate their success way too much when it is fundamentally unnecessary. It's cries of Bruce Springsteen's 'Glory Days'. Phillips does not need to do this and in my personal opinion doing so serves to undermine their credibility.

I don't believe Phillips completed their due diligence process on the provenance of this watch, which basically means I am doing it for them, and from what I have learned so far it's "Lucy!?!! You got some splanin' to do!?!!"

Also included with the provenance is the letter from the Rolex service department. It is amazing how graciously Rolex responded as you can read in the letter. 

In some respects, this letter might appear to be a confirmation from Rolex that the watch was a gift from Steve McQueen as part of the provenance, but to the best of my knowledge, the gracious Rolex customer service manager was simply repeating what was told to her. Below are a short documentary and an interview that is a tribute to Loren Janes, and you can see him wearing his Submariner.

In the video below we see Loren Janes tell a great story about Steve McQueen's generosity and if you watch closely you will notice he is wearing his Rolex Submariner in the video.

The photo below shows Loren Janes (left) standing next to Steve McQueen on the set of the major motion picture titled "The Hunter", where he served as McQueen's stunt double.

The Hunter

Steve McQueen wore his Rolex Submariner 5512 in the last movie he made which was named "The Hunter" which was released in 1980.

Four Steve McQueen Submariner Models
Seven Paul Newman Daytona Models

Over the past decade, I have written and published more content on the Steve McQueen Submariner and Paul Newman Daytona than any other entity on earth. So on some levels that makes me one of the top experts on these watches—or at least the stories and photos behind them.

The term Paul Newman Daytona can be tied to seven different Rolex Daytona models that Paul Newman wore. Despite this fact, there is one 'Paul Newman Daytona' that really is the transcendental 'Paul Newman Daytona', and that is the exotic white dial Rolex Daytona in stainless steel pictured above [Rolex Reference Number 6239].

Conversely, Steve McQueen was believed to have owned and worn multiple Rolex Submariner models. In the photo below, taken in 2009 at Fourtané Jewelers in Carmel-By-The-Sea, it shows me wearing one of Steve McQueen's Submariner models on my wrist. This Steve McQueen Submariner [Reference 5512] was auctioned by Antiquorum in 2009 for $234,000.

It is interesting to note in the photo above I am wearing Steve McQueen's Rolex Submariner on my right wrist, the same way Steve wore it exclusively on his right wrist—as seen in the photo below. BTW: The image below is NOT an official Rolex magazine ad, although it looks like one. Back in 2013, I held a competition for readers to create their vision of ideal Rolex ads, and I, of course, participated

This Steve McQueen magazine advertisement is one I created, and it shows him standing in front of his Hunter Green Porsche 911 (with an open sunroof), wearing his Rolex Submariner 5513, along with his Battlestar Galactica style suede jacket. The photo was taken in France while Steve McQueen was filming Le Mans.

Steve McQueen's son, Chad McQueen also owns and wears a Rolex Submariner that his father took of his wrist and gave to him on his deathbed. Chad McQueen is pictured below with his dad, and Chad is wearing a REALLY cool Hang-Ten T-Shirt with the two feet logo. I also used to wear the same Hang-Ten T-Shirts when I was a kid :-)

Chad McQueen is pictured below in a photo taken not so long after his father passed away, and notice he is wearing his Dad's Submariner.

Chad McQueen is pictured below in a more recent photo still wearing his fathers Rolex Submariner. When it comes to provenance this watch undeniably possesses the most compelling of all. 

Separating Fact From Fiction

Before we go any further in this story, I want to make a distinction between Steve McQueen and Rolex. On Jake's Rolex World I specialize in busting falsely perpetuated myths regarding Rolex. There was a persistent false myth perpetuated for a long time that referred to the Rolex Orange Hand Explorer II, Reference 1655 as the "Steve McQueen Explorer." 

The classic Rolex Explorer II 'Orange Hand' Reference  1655 that has been falsely associated with Steve McQueen is pictured above

In my story named "The Complete History Of Rolex Mythbusting—Seperating Rolex Fact from Fiction", I pointed out that Steve McQueen NEVER wore a Rolex Explorer. Instead, Steve McQueen only ever wore a Rolex Submariner—ONLY. Anybody who ever utters the term Steve McQueen Explorer is a complete idiot! There is, and never has been any such thing as a Steve McQueen Explorer and anybody who further perpetuates this false association is making a complete fool of themselves.

Rolex Kings of Cool

Steve McQueen v. Paul Newman

Who is the coolest man to ever wear a Rolex? It's hard to say, but one could argue the top contenders are Steve McQueen and Paul Newman as pictured below. In the photo below we see a photo of Steve McQueen that could have been taken yesterday. It shows him on the set of the 1973 movie named Papillon. 

Paul Newman famously wore multiple Rolex Daytona models throughout his life, and in the photo below we see his wearing his trademark exotic dial stainless steel Rolex Daytona, which is commonly referred to by collectors as "The Paul Newman Daytona."

Steve McQueen and Pual Newman were pals and they co-starred together in the major motion picture titled The Towering Inferno, which the photos below were taken on the set of.

In the photos below we see more photos from the archive of Steve McQueen rockin' his Rolex Submariner, which he often wore with his super-cool foldable Persol sunglasses.

In the photo above and below we see Steve McQueen's 1969 Porsche 917K (Chassis Number 024) swathed in Powder Blue and Marigold Orange. This rare Porsche 917 featured an air-cooled 12 cylinder 560HP mid-engine. It disappeared after the movie was made, only to come back to life in a barn-find. This amazing car was auctioned recently for $14,000,000.

In the photo below we see Steve McQueen in front of his 911S, while filming Le Mans, and notice his Submariner, along his Persol sunglasses, with this tie-dyed shirt. Groovy Baby, Yeah!!!!

The Rolex Submariner magazine ad below is from 1965, and you can always learn much, much more by reading my 20 Chapter series named "The Complete History Of The Rolex Submariner".

The following updates were all made yesterday:

Update #1 [June 6, 11:48 AM PST]: I just got off the phone with Gary Combs who was one of Hollywoods top stunt coordinators and stuntman who also doubled Steve McQueen. Gary Combs confirmed that the supposed provenance letter signed by Loren Janes is riddled with historical mistakes, and thus could NOT have been written by Loren Janes. You can get more details by scrolling down the page and reading the update. Much more detail on this story coming!!!

Update #2 [June 6, 12:17PM PST]: I just spoke with the consigner of the watch, Michael Eisenberg on the phone. He was busy and asked me to call him later today. As soon as I get off the phone with him I will post an update on his insight into this case. I also got off the phone with several other famous Hollywood stuntmen who worked with Steve McQueen and later today will be sharing their insight. Stay tuned...

Update #3 [June 6, 1:04PM PST]: I just reached out to Chad McQueen, who is Steve McQueen's son for comment on the provenance behind this watch. Also, I reached out to Aurel Bacs from Phillips Auction House for comment on this watch and am waiting to hear back from him.

Update #4 [June 6, 3:04PM PST]: I just got off the phone with Don Nunley who was a close friend of Steve McQueen as well as being the property master on the Steve McQueen movie titled "Le Mans" which was filmed in 1971. He recently wrote a book about his pal named "Steve McQueen, Le Mans in the Rearview Mirror." Don Nunley said that Loren Janes was not involved in any way shape or form in Le Mans, and if anybody would know, it would be the Le Mans Property Master. So here we have a second witness who tells us that the provenance letter is incorrect. Don wears a Rolex Submariner and in the future, I plan to interview him about his book. In the meantime, I put a video at the end of this story about his Steve McQueen book. Don also was a close friend of former Rolex U.S.A. Executive, T. Walker Lloyd and we traded some stories about T.

Update #5 [June 6, 6:01PM PST]: I spoke with the consigner of the watch in controversy, Michael Eisenberg and had a very detailed and interesting conversation. I have known Michael as a collector for a long time and he once sent in photos of Clark Gable's Rolex which I ran a story on back in 2012.

Michael told me the story about how one day he was by a swimming pool and noticed a copy of the L.A. Times. He said he picked it up, and the wind blew it open to a story about how a former stuntman lost his home in a fire. Michael said, "It's bizarre because I never read the L.A. Times, but I randomly ended up reading this story and at the end, it said that Loren Janes had lost his Rolex Submariner in a fire that Steve McQueen gave him. So after a week of trying to locate Loren Janes and his family, I finally got ahold of them. I convinced them to go through the rubble to find his watch which I told them was precious. They found it, and there were other bidders I outbid to buy the watch.

I asked Michael about the provenance letter and its inaccuracies. He sent me to Loren Jones IMDB database that listed Loren Janes as having been Steve McQueen's stunt double, but for all three movies that I confirmed he was not in. IMDB says he was Steve McQueen's UNCREDITED stunt double. This means Loren Janes was not credited on the movie credits at the end of the movie. Herein lies a conflict of evidence, that leads to more questions. Like 'who falsely listed Loren Jones as having participated in these movies when in reality he did not? 

I asked Michael if he actually ever met Loren Janes in person and he said no. I also asked him about the signed Loren Janes provenance letter. I told him I believed it was very highly unlikely for Loren Janes to have written it as he was 85 years old at the time and suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Michael said he did not know who wrote the provenance letter but confirmed that he purchased the watch before Loren Janes passed away. [Update: June 8 @ 8:45am. I spoke with Michael again and he clarified he received the provenance letter from the family at the time he purchased the watch, which was before Loren Janes passed away.]

I will be interviewing more people about this curious case of a Steve McQueen Submariner, and over the course of the next few days will likely rewrite this story to make it easier to understand. I will also draw my conclusion based upon my findings as to what I think the real facts are in this case. Stay Tuned :-)