Tag Archives: Astor watch

Titanic News for 2 Dec 2013

Here are some news stories that close out November.

1. Woman Shares Family’s Titanic Tale With Tenth Street Students(30 Nov 2013,Times Leader)
Students in fourth grade at the Tenth Street Elementary School were treated to a guest speaker recently. The students learned about the events of the sinking of the Titanic from Mae Thomas.Thomas, a child of a Titanic survivor, shared her mother and infant brother’s survival story aboard the Titanic, along with many other stories.

2. Belfast’s Odyssey Gets Go-Ahead For Extension That Could Create 1,000 Jobs(29 Nov 2013,Belfast Telegraph)
Odyssey Trust’s plans to build next to the existing Odyssey Arena and Pavilion come just weeks after Belfast Harbour won planning permission for an office development at City Quays. With an application lodged by Titanic Quarter Ltd for yet another development, the entire Belfast Harbour area is set for a major growth spurt. The scheme has space for nearly 800 apartments, two hotels, shops, cafes, bars and restaurants and “community and cultural use” space, according to planners Turley Associates, which acts for Odyssey Trust.

Photo Wikipedia
Photo Wikipedia

3. Tracing a Precious Relic of the Titanic(28 Nov 2013,New York Times)
A hundred years later, the solid gold Waltham pocket watch, purchased in 1907 and engraved with the initials J.J.A., has become an object of controversy. John Miottel, a collector in California, says he bought it 15 years ago. But in March an heir of the Astor family announced that he owned a watch carried by John Jacob Astor IV at the time of his death, according to reports published in The New York Post, The Daily Mail of London and elsewhere. Mr. Miottel, a real estate investor in Northern California who collects luxury ocean-liner memorabilia, said in a phone interview that he bought the Astor watch “in 1997 in a small auction house in Asheville, North Carolina, around the 85th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking when all the Titanic fans were celebrating aboard the Queen Mary in California.” “The ironic thing is that almost nobody, including the Astor Foundation, knew about this watch at the time,” added Mr. Miottel, who owns two other Titanic-related watches. “There would have been a lot more bidders if they had.”

A Disgraced Astor Heir and The Case of the Astor Watch

John Jacob Astor IV
Photo Wikipedia

This is like a Perry Mason novel. An heir to John Jacob Astor, Anthony ‘Tony’ Marshall,was convicted in 2009 of conning his mother, Brooke Astor, out of $60 million. He was sentenced to jail but living a quiet life while appealing the conviction. He showed up at the recent bash given by Clive Palmer. While there, he showed off a watch that was recovered from John Jacob Astor’s body and saying he was selling it for $1 million. Marshall claims the watch was given to his mother by her third husband, Vincent Astor. However John Miottel, a collector, claims that he owns the real Astor watch.

Here is the story everyone agrees one.  Astor’s body was found with the gold watch, cuff links, and a ring. Vincent Astor claimed the body in Nova Scotia and wore the watch. He left the watch to his godson, William Dobbyn V. After that the story changes. Elizabeth Dobbyn auctioned the watch in 1997 where Miottel bought it. In Marshall’s story, the watch was never auctioned off and given to his mother by Vincent Astor. So we are left with two Astor watches but only one of them can be the real deal. Miottel claims he documentation to prove its authenticity. The New York Post saw the documentation showing it had been auctioned by Brunk Auctions in Ashland, N.C.

So on one hand you have a real estate magnate who collects luxury ocean-liner memorabilia with documentation to prove his claim. And on the other you have someone convicted of defrauding his mother of $60 million, first-degree grand larceny, and scheming to defraud who says the watch came from Vincent Astor to his mother. The Gothamist has a good retort to make Marshall’s alleged Astor watch more valuable: “Just have it sink with the obviously doomed Titanic II and then fish it back up again.”


1. Astor Pariah’s Titanic Greed (28 Feb 2013, New York Post)

2. Astor’s Son Accused Of Hawking Fake Heirlooms To Titanic II Partiers(5 Mar 2013 ,Gothamist)

3. Brooke Astor’s Disgraced Son Is ‘Selling A Fraudulent Titanic Heirloom Pocket Watch For $1M And Claiming It Is The One Worn By John Jacob Astor To His Death’(5 Mar 2013, Daily Mail)