Charlie Watts

  • Event date 15 – 29 September 2023
  • Event location London & Online
Charlie Watts: Gentleman, Collector, Rolling Stone closed with resounding success across its two-part live and online auctions of Literature and Jazz, a fitting tribute to the exquisite taste of the legendary Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts.

The star of the live auction was an extraordinary presentation copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, inscribed by the author to ‘the original “Gatsby”’, selling for £226,800. A world auction record was set for the first edition presentation copy of Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles, which achieved £214,200. The live auction at Christie’s King Street saw lively bidding across the sale, with particular excitement for works by Agatha Christie, including The Murder of Roger Ackroyd which sold for £56,700, and The Thirteen Problems which achieved an impressive, record-breaking £60,480.

The Jazz section was equally vibrant with two Down Beat awards, presented to Charlie Parker for ‘Favorite Soloist: First Place’ and ‘Alto Sax: First Place’, selling for £37,800, while The Autobiography, an inscribed first edition by Miles Davis and Quincy Thomas Jr. Troupe, closed the live auction with a flourish, selling for a record price of £27,720.

In the Part II online sale, P.G. Wodehouse’s A Damsel in Distress took centre stage and realised an impressive £21,420, while an evocative signed photograph of Josephine Baker realised £13,860 and a collection of twelve presentation copies by Agatha Christie achieved £18,900, concluding this wonderful two-part auction.
Charlie Watts at Christie's

“Charlie was the heartbeat of the Rolling Stones for nearly sixty years, he was totally unique and devoted to jazz and literature from boyhood. He was the quintessential English gentleman and his absence is a great loss for us all. We miss him hugely.” Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood

About Charlie Watts

Charlie Watts

The driving force behind the Rolling Stones, and the gentleman who provided the backbeat to some of the most iconic tracks of our time, Charlie Watts’ love of jazz and music underpinned his life. Charlie formed his own jazz group, The Charlie Watts Quintet, whose performances at Ronnie Scott’s were a highlight of Charlie’s multifaceted career. Musical passion became a dominant force in his collecting: his love of Charlie Parker, the jazz greats including Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman led to the creation of his unrivalled collection of jazz-related memorabilia.

In his collecting journey, Charlie’s love of jazz found a match in his love of 20th-century British and American literature. The dynamic and crisp lines of the iconic covers of The Great Gatsby, The Maltese Falcon and more caught the eye of the ever-stylish Charlie. In addition to the literary giants of the 20th century, Charlie also had a great appreciation for the British crime genre, including works by Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. This love of a good story ran over into Charlie’s work—he was celebrated for his attention to detail, intellectual curiosity and deep appreciation for 20th-century culture, and perhaps his inimitable drum grooves can be described as his own version of storytelling.


Brought to you by

Benedict Winter

Benedict Winter

Associate Director, Specialist

Private & Iconic Collections

Mark Wiltshire

Mark Wiltshire


Books & Manuscripts

Venetia Jolly

Venetia Jolly

Cataloguer and Sale Coordinator

Private & Iconic Collections

Special feature

Charlie Watts at a Rolling Stones concert in Muenster, Germany, in 1965

‘In a conversation about jazz he just lit up. And he was a complete walking encyclopedia’

The Rolling Stones drummer’s reverence for the legends of jazz — among them Charlie Parker, Billy Eckstine, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis — drove him to collect rare recordings and memorabilia that will strike a chord with all music fans

Charlie Watts

Book lovers’ banquet: first editions owned by Charlie Watts

The Rolling Stone’s rocking collection of books ranges from a rare copy of The Great Gatsby inscribed by F. Scott Fitzgerald to an edition of Dylan Thomas’s 18 Poems — containing the words ’my own copy’ but presented to two different girlfriends

Limited-edition catalogue

Charlie Watts auction catalogue at Christie's London

Special print publication

To celebrate this landmark occasion, a limited-edition catalogue will be published to accompany the auctions.

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