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Rare Muzo Emerald from a 17th Century Spanish Shipwreck Comes to Auction

Imagine seeing hundreds of sparkling green emeralds floating down through the water toward you like raindrops. That is how one former graduate archaeology student, Cris Gober, described his work uncovering ancient treasure. The emeralds were part of the precious cargo from a sunken shipwreck, and they were being sucked up from the seabed by an airlift. The emeralds had spent over 300 years at the bottom of the ocean. Fortuna is proud to have had one such rare 9.47-Carat Fine Colombian Muzo Emerald from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Diamond Ring in the recent May Jewels and Watches auction.

9.47-Carat Fine Colombian Muzo Emerald from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Diamond Ring, an exciting lot from Fortuna’s May Jewels & Watches auction

In March of 1622, the Nuestra Señora de Atocha left Spain on a four-month journey across the Atlantic to Cartagena, Colombia. It was there that the sizable Spanish galleon retrieved over 71 pounds of emeralds from its South American colonies. They would take their bounty to Panama City, Florida, where it took two months just to record the vast treasures they had amounted. From Florida, they proceeded onto Havana, to join the rest of the 28-ship Spanish fleet, Tierra Firme (Firm Land) and load the most valuable of their cargo onto the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, which was the largest and most heavily armed ship of them all. The Atocha would trail the rest of the convoy in case of an attack from behind. An attack came, but not from pirates or British naval ships; the Atocha was leaving Havana in the peak of hurricane season and succumbed to nature’s fury. Just four days after departing Cuba, the Atocha sunk—taking with it over 260 lives. The few survivors of the wreckage and the surviving Spanish ships marked the spot where the ship sank, but more hurricanes ruined any attempts to salvage the treasure.

The Atocha alone carried cargo whose estimates range between $250 and $500 million, including silver from Peru and Mexico, gold and emeralds from Colombia, pearls from Venezuela, as well as more common goods including worked silverware, tobacco, and bronze cannons. Muzo emeralds are coveted worldwide for their exceptional quality and richness in color. They are named after a town in the Colombian Andes, known as the emerald capital of the world. In fact, the main economy of Muzo remains to this day, 75% emerald mining.

So how did this 9.47-Carat Fine Colombian Muzo Emerald from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha end up in Fortuna’s May Jewels & Watches auction? Over 300 years after the shipwreck, an unlikely hero would discover the treasure. Mel Fisher, a former chicken farmer turned diving shop owner, spent 16 years searching for the famed treasure. While Mel found many clues scattered across the Florida coast, such as copper cannons that were inscribed as belonging to the Atocha, the actual shipwreck continued to elude Mel and his team of divers.

Treasure hunter, Mel Fisher holding a jar of Colombian Emeralds and some Gold recovered from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha. (Courtesy of Mel Fisher’s Treasures.)

Mel continued to search for the ship with his children, and world-record-setting diver, his wife, Dolores. On July 20, 1985, his son Kane, radioed into his father to let him know, they had finally “found the motherlode.” They had found the bow of the ship, and with it, over $400 million in goods. After diving for minimum wage for 16 years, this would change the Fisher’s lives forever—if they got to keep it.

The state of Florida attempted to claim the treasure as theirs, but the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in favor of Fisher and his team. The case could easily have gone another way; only a few years later, a judge ruled the finders of another Spanish shipwreck had to return the treasure to Spain.

American singer, Jimmy Buffet celebrating with the crew behind Silver bars recovered from the ship. (Photo by Don Kincaid via Mel Fisher’s Treasures.)

The images of Mel smiling with glee rocked the media. Not to mention the images of Jimmy Buffet, singer and Florida Keys local, singing while perched on bars of silver recovered from the ship. Mel went on to become a Florida hero and a pop-culture icon, even appearing on “Late Night with Johnny Carson,” wearing some of his favorite artifacts. Much of the cache of treasure, however, went on permanent display at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida, which to this day celebrates Mel’s adventures and heroism.

Mel Fisher cheekily posing with his spoils. (Courtesy of Mel Fisher’s Treasures.)

The story of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha isn’t over, however. Experts believe the majority of the ship’s emeralds and other important treasures, would have been kept in the stern of the ship, which remains unfound. Yet Mel Fisher’s discovery was still added to 2014’s Guinness Book of World Records as the most valuable shipwreck to be recovered, despite it being incomplete.

9.47-Carat Fine Colombian Muzo Emerald from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Diamond Ring, a part of Fortuna’s May Jewels & Watches auction

While Colombian emeralds are already prized for their exceptional color and quality, Colombian emeralds verified to originate from the historic Muzo mines are even more desirable within the colored gemstone market. This particular Muzo emerald offered in Fortuna’s recent May auction is especially significant given its riveting origins. It achieved a final price of $40,625, flying past the starting bid of $9,500. For more details on this historic piece, click here.

Fortuna’s May Jewels & Watches auction took place on Thursday, May 13th at 11 AM EDT. For full sale results, click here.

Type IIa D IF 4.07-carat Marquise Diamond

Fortuna Ends the Year Strong with Important Estate Diamonds

Fortuna’s most-anticipated sale of the year, the December Jewels & Watches auction, came to an exciting close on Thursday, December 10, 2020 after nearly a full day of live bidding activity. December’s curated collection offered a wealth of iconic estate jewels, important gemstones, and rare vintage timepieces—giving holiday shoppers the perfect opportunity to surprise their loved ones with one-of-a-kind treasures. In total sales revenue, the December auction sold nearly $1.9 million in jewelry and watches, showing promising signs of the return of consumer confidence in luxury accessories. For full sale results, click here.

Rolex Daytona Ref. 6241 in 14K Gold (Lot 1047, December Jewels & Watches)

Only a year after setting global auction records for a 1991 limited edition Cartier Crash watch, Fortuna has returned bringing yet another vintage watch rarity to market. Despite being one of the later consigned items of Fortuna’s over 400-lot catalog, the impressive Rolex Daytona Ref. 6241 in 14K Gold got the bidding attention it deserved. Amassing one of the world’s largest followings in vintage sports watches, the Rolex Daytona is a tour de force of mechanical timepieces. Debuting in 1966, the Ref. 6241 is especially rare for its 14K gold case—only seeing about 3000 examples made in all metals. Opening at auction with a starting bid of $70,000, the price quickly climbed between multiple phone bidders. After a tense final exchange between two phone bidders, the classic timepiece eventually went for a hammer price of $135,000 and a final achieved price of $168,750. 

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Estate Jewels Dazzled at Fortuna’s November Sale

NEW YORK, November 13, 2020—Fortuna’s November Jewels & Watches sale concluded last Thursday, affirming the return of the strength of the fine jewelry and watch market, despite a challenging year for the industry. The NYC-based boutique auction house was extremely well-positioned to tackle the changes in luxury shopping that 2020 has brought by bringing the excitement of an auction completely online. With its state-of-the-art website and growing social media presence, the boutique auction house attracted plenty of new bidders to their autumn auction.

Cartier Rivoli Diamond Bracelet, achieved $25,000 at auction.
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Cartier Crash 1991 Limited Edition - Fortuna December 2019 Important Watches

Record Breaking Cartier Crash Leads Fortuna’s December Sales

NEW YORK, December 16, 2019—Fortuna, the NYC-based auction house specializing in fine jewelry and watches, concluded its final auctions for the year, Important Jewels and Important Watches, achieving over $1.8 million in revenue and setting a world record for the iconic Cartier Crash, one of the most unusual and intriguing watches on the market.

Created in 1967, legend has it that the Cartier Crash, which resembles the melting clocks in Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory,” was inspired by a timepiece recovered from a scorching car wreck. Reissued in 1991 in a limited edition of only 400 pieces, the rare timepiece is quickly achieving cult-status and has been spotted on the wrists of high profile celebrities, such as a style icon and avid watch collector, Kanye West. Yet, veteran collectors were shocked when the Crash flew by its high estimate of $50,000, achieving $81,250 at the boutique NYC auction house.

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Building Your Ultimate Watch Collection - Special Interview with Greg Selch and Eric Wind

Building Your Ultimate Watch Collection, with Greg Selch and Eric Wind

We here at Fortuna Auction are excited to present a special interview with Greg Selch and Eric Wind, both established watch collectors who have grown very successful in their hunt for vintage watches of significance. We hope that all collectors, new or experienced, will find their tips and tricks in finding the perfect vintage timepiece particularly insightful.

 

 

 

Patek Philippe Ref. 2526 Fratello Watches - Fortuna NYC Fine Jewelry & Watch Auction

Fratello Watches: Fortuna “Important Watches” Auction September 27th

BY ROBERT-JAN BROER, FRATELLO WATCHES

 

Fortuna is auctioning a number of interesting watches during their ‘Important Watches’ sale on September 27th. We would like to give you our highlights of that auction, but feel free to browse their catalogue anyways, as they have quite an interesting line-up of watches. The ‘Important Watches’ auction consists of 66 lots, with a fair share of Rolex watches, of course. But you will also find other interesting pieces, like the Gérald Genta Octagon Chronograph for example, or a beautiful desk clock from Jaeger-LeCoultre (Marina).

We picked a couple of highlights of this auction, that may interest you as well. Without further ado, let’s have a look.

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Forbes Fall 2018 Important Watches - Fortuna Fine Jewelry & Watch Auction

Forbes: New Serious Player in High-End Watch Auctions, Fortuna, with High-Quality September 27, 2018 Sale

BY ELIZABETH DOERR, FORBES

 

New York-based Fortuna Auction house debuts a new department focused on watches. Founded in 2012 and building a strong reputation in jewelry over many years, it held its first watch-only auction earlier in 2018. With a strong emphasis on transparency, a commitment to protecting sellers from unfortunate (but common) unethical practices in the industry, and a dedication to superior service, Fortuna aims to change an age-old industry. Fortuna’s second auction is set to take place on September 27, 2018 with a few examples of prime secondary market watches led by the following shortlist – mainly comprising Rolex and Patek Philippe, the auction world’s current darlings.

Lot 65, a Rolex Paul Newman Daytona Reference 6239: this is a circa 1967 example of the perhaps the most famous Rolex style currently available on the vintage market: the “Paul Newman” Daytona. The “Paul Newman” predicate is today used to denote a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Oyster with the reference numbers 6239, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264, or 6265. Additionally, the references must have one of four dial color combinations: a “panda” dial with black background and white chronograph totalizer subdials; inverse panda with white background and black chronograph totalizers; inverse panda with cream-colored background and black chronograph totalizers; anthracite-colored background with white chronograph totalizers.

[…]

 

Read full article on Forbes.com

 

Watchtime Fall Important Watches - Fortuna Fine Jewelry & Watch Auction

WatchTime: 13 Highlights from the Fortuna “Important Watches” Fall Sale

BY LOGAN BAKER, WATCHTIME

Back in June, we introduced you to Fortuna Auction House, a new presence in the watch auction sphere that distinguishes itself through a straightforward pricing strategy and a hands-on, no-risk approach to buying and selling vintage timepieces. After a successful summer sale, the seven-year-old, New York-based company has returned for its sophomore watch auction with a very impressive selection.

The 66-lot sale that goes down on Thursday, September 27, features a wide range of watches from vintage Rolex Submariners to a fresh-to-market Paul Newman Daytona that has one of the cleanest dials we’ve ever seen. All in all, it’s another strong sale for Fortuna as the house continues to solidify its place in the watch auction world.

Just as in previous sales, Fortuna has published the starting bid on all of its lots, a move that offers a level of transparency rarely seen in auctions of any kind. This allows the inexperienced buyer the opportunity to feel out how much money they want to commit to the sale without being intimidated.

Without further ado, here are our 13 highlight watches from Fortuna “Important Watches – Sale 1026.”

[…]

Read full article on WatchTime.com

Vintage Heuer Autavia WatchTime Fortuna Auction Important Watches

WatchTime: Introducing Fortuna, a New Face in the Watch Auction Scene

BY LOGAN BAKER, WATCHTIME

It’s not often that we get to write about an auction house for the first time. There are four or five well-known watch auction houses (you know who they are) that have pretty much dominated that side of the industry for as long as most people can remember. Of course, there are other, more regional auction houses but, on an international, even national level, it’s quite rare to see a new face pop up.

However, with Fortuna, a seven-year-old auction house that has made its name on the jewelry side of the collecting world, that’s not the case… the young business is poised to make a name for itself thanks to a straightforward pricing strategy and a hands-on and no-risk approach to buying and selling.

“The origin of the auction house was to protect and look out for the seller, because in our experience, the buyers, they’re the knowledgeable ones,” says John Saxon. “It’s the person that inherits their grandfather’s watch, or it’s the woman that is going through a bad divorce and needs to sell her jewelry. Those are the people that are at a lot of risk. So we really wanted to build a business that would hold their hand and protect them and guide them through the process, and that became the foundation for it.”

Fortuna does this through a customer-first approach that offers a true white glove experience for clients whether they are buying or selling. Say you place a bid and win a $15,000 watch in tomorrow’s inaugural auction. The team at Fortuna will handle each step of the process for you from payment to shipping.

[…]

Read full article on WatchTime.com

Rolex Paul Newman Daytona Ref. 6239-Fortuna Auction Important Watches

Fortuna Auction Important Watches Sale

BY A BLOG TO WATCH, Sales & Auctions

 

On June 28, 2018 Fortuna, the boutique fine jewelry auction house based in NYC, will hold its inaugural Important Watches sale. As an auction house that has never been strongly associated with the premiere watch collecting world, Fortuna has steadily been growing out their watch department. Featured in the upcoming sale is a strong selection of collectible timepieces from a variety of brand names, led by a Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona, Ref. 6239. Read more about some of the most desirable lots that will be offered for sale this June.

 

Rolex Paul Newman Daytona-Fortuna Auction Important Watches

 

THE CULT FAVORITE: THE ROLEX “PAUL NEWMAN” DAYTONA REF. 6239

The famous “Paul Newman” Daytona will leave any vintage Rolex collector or watch enthusiast buzzing with excitement, given their relative scarcity. This particular model is certainly considered to be the most authentic. It was the reference number that actor and racecar driver, Paul Newman originally wore, and the one that ignited the worldwide obsession for the Rolex Daytona with the “Exotic dial.” For those enamored by Rolex’s complex journey of manufacturing and outsourcing before they became the vertically-integrated company that we know today, the Paul Newman Daytona represents a very interesting segment of Rolex history. During the 1960s, a small portion of the watch dials for Rolex’s newest watch at the time, the Daytona, was made by the company Singer. This “Exotic Dial” completely transformed the look of the watch, most notably with the use of the Art Deco fonts and indexes with squared tops in the sub-dials and the introduction of a third color—the contrasting red minute track and “Daytona” moniker.

[…]

 

Read full article on A Blog to Watch.

 

Fortuna Auction IMPORTANT WATCHES: Event Details

IMPORTANT WATCHES Sale

12:00 PM June 28, 2018

At the Fortuna Showroom in NYC

(608 5th Avenue & 49th Street.)

 Auction Previews

June 18-22, 24-27 at the Fortuna Showroom

Weekdays: 10AM-5PM

Weekends: 12PM-5PM

 

View the auction catalog for June IMPORTANT WATCHES here.