Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family (second cousin to the ruling Emir) and former Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, has been revealed as the previously unknown owner of the Henry Graves Complication after he was forced to pledge it and almost 240 other items valued at almost $83 million to Sotheby’s to cover debts owed to the auction house.
For those who don’t know, the 18K Graves Supercomplication was ordered by banker Henry Graves Jr. from Patek Philippe in 1928 and delivered in 1933, the culmination of an expensive horological duel with James Ward Packard to commission a watch with the most complications in the world. The Graves has 24 complications and garnered itself the title of the world’s most expensive timepiece at auction when it was sold in on 2 December 1999 for $11 million ($11,002,500 to be precise). Graves paid 60,000 Swiss Francs for it.
According to Bloomberg, which broke the story, this is not his only financial woe, with Al-Thani the subject of two lawsuits since the end of September and reportedly leaving a trail of debt behind him, with at least eleven auction houses and dealers unpaid over the last year and a half. For more details, see Bloomberg’s story here.
Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Thani likes more than watches. He was named by Artnews as one of the world’s top ten art collectors in 2011. To read about some of his other collecting interests and record breaking auction purchases, click here.