First edition copies of The Hound of the Baskervilles and Agatha Christie’s The thirteen problemswhich once belonged to the late Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, set two world auction records on Thursday (September 28).
The musician’s extensive collection of first editions came under the hammer at the British auction house Christie’s as part of a special auction at which the celebrated novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald was also auctioned The Great Gatsbyfirst published in 1925, received the highest bid at £226,800.
The edition was described as a “cornerstone” of the drummer’s collection, while bidders gathered in the auction room were told it was the “finest” example Christie’s had offered “in a generation”.
Elsewhere a first edition of the Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Baskervilles Sold for £214,200, setting a new world auction record for a printed book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This beats the previous record of $201,600 (£165,279). The sign of fourwhich was sold in 2022.
The rare copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles The work, sold on Thursday (September 28), featured a personal message on the front cover from Conan Doyle himself, who wrote: “I walked Dartmoor before I wrote this book.” Watts lived 10 miles from the book’s setting located in Devonshire.
Twenty-five novels by Agatha Christie also went under the hammer, including an “extraordinarily rare” edition of the author’s crime collection from 1932 The thirteen problems Selling for £60,480. This sale set a new world auction record for a Christie book, with the previous highest price being £47,880 The ABC Murders in 2021.
The thirteen problems is notable for the first appearance of Christie’s famous detective Miss Marple in the section “The Tuesday Night Club.”
Meanwhile Watts’ edition from Christie’s The murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) sold for £56,700, while his copy of The murder in the rectory (1930), dedicated to the author’s daughter Rosalind, sold for £34,020.
Other sales highlights included first editions by Raymond Chandler The lady in the lake (£32,760), Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (£27,720) and Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of honor trilogy, which eventually fetched £47,880 after a close bidding war. Watts’ copy of Waugh’s Brideshead revisited also sold for £60,480.
Watts, a member of the Rolling Stones since 1963, died in August 2021 at the age of 80. At the time of his death, his publicist Bernard Doherty told the PA news agency that the drummer “passed away peacefully in a London hospital today, surrounded by his family”.
The musician was the oldest member of the group alongside Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards.
During his drumming career, Watts also curated an outstanding collection of works inspired by his passion for jazz and literature. As the 127 items for sale attest, his love of literature was 20th century British and American authors, with a particular interest in the crime and mystery genres.
“Charlie was the heartbeat of the Rolling Stones for almost 60 years, he was utterly unique and dedicated to jazz and literature since his childhood,” Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards said in a joint statement following his death. “He was the epitome of an English gentleman and his absence is a great loss to us all. We miss him very much.”
Benedict Winter, books and manuscripts specialist at Christie’s, said: “Charlie Watts occupies a unique position in music history and Christie’s is proud to celebrate his extraordinary achievements and diverse legacy.
“Charlie built his collection of modern literature and jazz with passion, intelligence and dedication, and this two-part auction celebrates his outstanding collecting taste.”
Next month, the Rolling Stones will release their first album since Watts’ death. While releasing their 24th album titled Hackney DiamondsLast month at an event in London, Keith Richards paid tribute to his bandmate, saying: “Since Charlie’s gone everything’s different – he’s number four, he’s missed. “Of course he’s missed, unbelievable.”
Watts was replaced by Steve Jordan, whom Richards said the late drummer recommended “in case anything happened to him.” He described it as a “natural progression” and added: “Without Charlie’s blessing it would have been much more difficult.”
However, in a poignant twist, the band revealed that Watts still managed to contribute to the album, as he appears on two tracks, “Mess It Up” and “Live By The Sword”, both of which were recorded around 2019.
Hackney Diamonds will be released on October 20th.