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Patrizzi "Heuer Only" Auction: A Quick Summary of My Role

I have had a few questions about my role relating to the Patrizzi & Co. “Heuer Only” auction, being held November 28th, in Milan, so I wanted to post a quick message, just to confirm what I have done – and not done – relating to this auction. [For example, here is a question posed by Arno over on VetroPlastica:

Arno M. Haslinger wrote:

Jeff have you told Patrizzi, that there is an issue with their Siffert?

I had a scroll through the catalog and at first sight it looks like the following lots have some issues at first sight: 2,4,16,18,29,31,32,46,52,55,56,60,79,88,89,90,108]

I hope that our readers will understand that I am not posting this message out of any sense of self-importance or defensiveness, but perhaps this recap will help readers understand how we now find ourselves where we are . . . five days before the auction, with 25 lots marked as "withdrawn" from the auction, and disappointment, across at least three continents.

OK . . . let me start at the beginning, or maybe I should say at the recent beginning [as I first had visibility to most of the watches included in this auction almost three years ago . . . but that can be another story for another day].

On Friday, November 6th, I received a phone call from someone at Patrizzi & Co., in Milan, asking about some sources and credits for the photos of racers, that Patrizzi wanted to include in their printed catalog. They were not asking me to have any role relating to the watches, only that I help them identify sources for some photos to be used in the printed catalog. Within a couple of days, I provided them with some information about these photos. I also asked whether it might be possible for me to receive a preview or advance copy of the catalog, so that I could be prepared to post information about the auction at OnTheDash, Chronocentric and VetroPlastica.

On Wednesday, November 11th, I received an “advance copy” of the catalog. This advance copy was a low resolution PDF of the printed catalog, which was then in final form and “on the press”. (The online version was also being prepared at that time, but had not yet been released.) That night, I spent exactly one hour going through images of the watches included in the catalog. Based only on this one-hour review, I advised my contact at Patrizzi that the catalog included 4 Frankens, 6 Fakes and 15 Specials, about which I had concerns, and I sent a list identifying these 25 problematic lots. In reviewing the catalog, I did not get to the level of hands, needles, bezels, pushers and crowns, but only pointed out the obvious problems (primarily with the dials and cases). As you can imagine, reviewing 129 lots in 60 minutes did not lend itself to a thorough review of all elements of every watch. I did not review the descriptions in the catalog, at all . . . this would have been impossible, in the time that I had available.

On the evening of November 12th, I spoke with a representative of Patrizzi about the 25 problematic lots and it was my recommendation that these lots be removed from the auction. On the morning of November 13th, I received a message to the effect that these 25 watches would be withdrawn from the online catalog, although the folks at Patrizzi indicated that they expected to conduct additional research into the 15 “Specials” which I had questioned. [Of course, it was too late to do anything about the printed auction catalogs.]

So this is where we stand today – there are 25 lots marked as “withdrawn” from the online catalog; vintage enthusiasts continue to inspect the images and find problems with the hands, needles, bezels, crowns and other elements or many lots . . . this is not surprising; some of the lots seem to have survived this scrutiny, without taking too many shots . . . this is also not surprising.

I hope that this helps you understand what I have done relating to the Patrizzi auction and what I have not done. When people ask, “who was the expert?” or “who wrote the descriptions?”, I am unable to answer these questions. I can confirm that I spent exactly 60 minutes with a low resolution version of the catalog, which seems to have resulted in 25 lots being withdrawn from the auction. I should also report that my contacts at Patrizzi seem to have been very surprised and concerned about this situation.

Feel free to post any questions or comments.


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