The Salon Privé Sale 2015

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Richard Burton’s 1970 Omega Constellation Automatic

Lot No.: 116

Sold for (£): 9,635

**Sold in aid of the Alzheimer's Society**

 

We have the honour of offering for sale a piece of twentieth century history, an item that witnessed the glamour of 1970's Hollywood and the jet set parties of Europe. Richard Burton, the titan of his age, drank with Sinatra, danced with the Duchess of Windsor and was married to Elizabeth Taylor. Twice. The Burton-Taylor saga became the defining moment of modern celebrity when their 1963 affair scandalised the world. With even the Vatican commenting that their relationship was "erotic vagrancy".

This 1970 Omega Constellation, according to the vendor, was given as a gift by Liz to Richard during a stay at their Gstaad home in the autumn of 1970. Their love story had the makings of a Hollywood movie. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were married and divorced twice, and their union was probably the most notorious and dramatic of the 20th century. The provenance is exemplary, a handwritten note (to be supplied with the watch) by Burton's nephew, dated 29th August 2010, includes the following:

"I confirm that this watch belonged to Richard Burton. My mother remembers Richard wearing it."

Burton was famous for buying gifts for Liz, he outbid Cartier and Aristotle Onassis for a diamond ring, paying the equivalent of £13,000,000 in today's money. He bought umpteen diamonds and pearls, and gifts of Van Goghs and Monets were all made to Liz. After Taylor's death her collection of jewellery, many bought by Burton, was famously sold for a premium inclusive £74,900,000 in December 2011. However the gift giving wasn't entirely one way, Richard Burton's diaries note a number of gifts by Liz to him, a few of which were gold watches. Omega of Zurich confirmed that the watch was bought on 12th September 1970 in Zurich, but for reasons of client confidentiality refused to say by whom.

Offered today with the patina of forty-five years the watch measures 39.9mm by 32.9mm and has the Omega case numbers 166.059 168.047 with the watch and bracelet in 18ct gold. The vendor acquired the watch from a gentleman who had acquired it direct from Richard Burton's family.

The vendor, a proud Welshman, has generously proposed that any proceeds over the bottom estimate shall be donated to the Alzheimer's Society, a charity close to his heart as his wife has suffered from this debilitating disease for fifteen years. Silverstone Auctions shall match this generosity by donating the buyer's premium.