Saturday, May 13, 2023

...An Open Letter to Sotheby's Auction House..

 ...An Open Letter to Sotheby's Auction House..


Sotheby's Keeps Falsely Associating 

Steve McQueen with Rolex Explorer II

Are auction houses trustworthy if they knowingly falsely associate a Rolex watch model with a celebrity who never wore such a model? As a leading Rolex historian and scholar it frustrates me to no end that auction houses worldwide keep falsely associating Rolex models with people who NEVER wore them!?!! In this case, Sotheby's AGAIN appears to be falsely associating the Rolex Explorer II with Steve McQueen in their upcoming Important Watches Part II Auction in Lot 214 on May 15, 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland.


This is an open letter to Sotheby's Auction House:

Dear Sotheby's,

I am again formally bringing this false association to your attention and asking you to kindly fix this false association error. I acknowledge that perhaps you might have information that contradicts my premise of your false association, and if that is the case I invite you to contact me with such information that I will add to this story to refute my observation, and thus set the record straight.

If you are not able to produce evidence that associated Steve McQueen with the Rolex Explorer II, I request that you PLEASE REMOVE THE FALSE ASSOCIATION FROM YOUR UPCOMING AUCTION LOT, as doing so not only undermines your reputation as being an expert in the horological field, but also falsely perpetuates this FAKE NEWS myth.

I look forward to your response.

Jake Ehrlich

The Screenshot above from Sotheby's Auction House features a description

 that states "Rolex. Explorer II 'Steve McQueen' Reference 1655."

Sotheby's Auction House is not alone in perpetuating this false Steve McQueen association as Antiquorum Auction House and Phillips Auction House, as well as others have done the same thing in the past. In all fairness, after I reached out to Phillips Auction House in the past and brought this false Steve McQueen association to their attention with an action lot they initially argued with me about, they reluctantly fixed it by removing the historically incorrect false association.

Just to be crystal-clear, it is a fact Steve McQueen wore multiple Rolex Submariner models during his lifetime, as evidenced in the photo below, but NEVER wore a Rolex Explorer.

Steve McQueen wearing his trademark Rolex Submariner Reference 5512

In the past I published a super detailed story named: "The Complete History Of Rolex Mythbusting: Separating Rolex Fact from Fiction", which specifically discusses the falsely perpetuated myth of the Steve McQueen Explorer.

Update 1: I reached out to Sotheby's and brought this open letter to their attention. It will be interesting to see if they respond?

Update 2: On our Instagram account, @WhiskeyRolex asked:

"What's the history to the nickname? Been Referred to that way for at least 25+ years of me being a watch enthusiast?"

I responded:

"@whiskeyrolex The best scholarship suggests an unscrupulous Italian auction house back in the 1990s wanted to try and get more money for Rolex Explorer ‘Orange Hand’ models at auction, and they saw how well the accurate ‘PAUL NEWMAN DAYTONA’ was performing, so they decided to try and do the same thing by falsely associating the Explorer with Steve McQueen. 

Don’t forget this was in the pre/early internet days when they could get away with something so ridiculous. They kept falsely associating the watch and it caught on, so other auction houses saw the false association generating more $$$$$, so they followed in lockstep and perpetually followed in their footsteps. 

BTW: They did the same thing by falsely associating the Triple-Date Rolex Chronograph with Jean-Claude Killy…"

Update 3: Somebody asked, "What about calling a Rolex GMT-Master a Batman or an LV Submariner a Kermit or Hulk?" 

Those are nicknames made by watch enthusiasts in the collectors community based upon their color combination similarities, thus I have no challenge with them. Nobody thinks Kermit The Frog, Batman, Batgirl, or the Incredible Hulk wore an LV Submariner. 

Falsely associating a celebrity with a Rolex model so you can sell it for more money at a public auction is different. 

I will give you an example: 

Let's say an auction house refers to a highland green 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback as a 'Bullit Mustang', or 'Steve McQueen Mustang', that might make sense as Steve McQueen famously drove such a car in the 1969 movie Bullit. 

Steve McQueen driving a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback
 on the Streets of San Francisco while filming Bullit

But what if an unethical auction house said, "Hey why don't we falsely associate Paul Newman with a 1966 Ford GT40 Mark II, which Paul Newman NEVER drove, and at auction started calling it the "Paul Newman GT40" that would clearly be an unethical false association!!!

Paul Newman wearing his trademark Rolex Daytona with 

Exotic White Dial which is a Rolex Reference 6239 Chronograph

There really is something to be said for authenticity!!!

I rest my case your honor...

On a side note, the video below is what the auction houses remind me of in their relentless quest and unscrupulous pursuit for trying to make easy $$$$$$$$$$.

"Yeah, I have a Rolex Explorer II prototype for sale that my best friend, Steve McQueen wore his whole life!! Yeah! That's what happened! Then you know what happened next? 'Steveo' as I affectionately called him—in-fact—took it off his wrist and gave it to his favorite stuntman, who later gave it to me since I saved him from a pit viper snake attack!!! Yeah, that's what happened! That's the ticket!!! You bet it is...You can guarantee on that!" I'm not kidding you!: