Event date 15 – 29 September 2023
Event location London & Online
Christie’s is delighted to announce Charlie Watts: Gentleman, Collector, Rolling Stone, a two-part auction comprising an extraordinary library of modern first editions together with landmarks from the world of jazz, collected by renowned musician and Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (1941–2021). The flagship auction, Charlie Watts: Literature and Jazz Part I, will take place live in London on 28 September, with a Part II online sale open for bidding from 15 to 29 September.
Leading the live sale is a first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, inscribed by the author to the ‘original “Gatsby” of this story, with thanks for letting me reveal these secrets of his past’. Charlie’s outstanding literary collection features iconic works of detective fiction by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle alongside the very best English and American literature of the 20th century. Other notable highlights include a George Gershwin signed printed score of the legendary opera Porgy and Bess and a pair of Down Beat awards from 1952 presented to Charlie Parker, as well as signed photographs and rare acetate recordings from the jazz and musical hall of fame.
“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
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.
‘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
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
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