Paul Newman’s legacy lives on in many ways.
Locally, our longtime neighbor’s dedication to theater can be seen in the handsome Westport Country Playhouse, which he and his wife Joanne Woodward lovingly helped restore.
The 39-acre Newman-Poses Nature Preserve — accessible off Bayberry Lane, near his Coleytown Road property — is one of our town’s hidden gems.
Nationally, his Hole in the Wall Gang Camp offers joy to youngsters with life-threatening illnesses, and their families.
And the Newman’s Own Foundation — based right here in town — has given half a billion dollars to charitable organizations around the globe.
But now you can have a very personal piece of Paul Newman’s legacy.
A Rolex Daytona owned by the actor/race car driver/philanthropist/popcorn and salad dressing king is “the Mona Lisa, perhaps the most famous timepiece in the world.”
At least, that’s what the New York Times says. And that’s not fake news.
The reason it’s so valuable, the paper says, is that “for decades, no one outside the Newman family seemed to know where it was.”
Now they do.
Next month, the “lost masterpiece” is “the centerpiece of a watch auction at Phillips in New York.”
It could fetch $10 million.
According to the Times, Newman’s first watches were as low-key as his “quiet life … in leafy Westport, Conn. (He drove) a Volkswagen Beetle (albeit with a Porsche engine), and (wore) a three-piece patchwork denim ensemble when circumstances forced him to dress up.”
In 1968, Woodward gave him a 6239 model. It was “distinctive and relatively rare, featuring an exotic dial containing a number of stylish design tweaks including, most notably, the Art Deco-style numerals on the subdials that any true watch connoisseur can spot from 10 paces.”
Apparently, Newman thought little of the gift. He “casually handed over the watch to James Cox, (his daughter) Nell’s college boyfriend at the time, one muggy summer afternoon in 1984.”
Cox was helping repair a treehouse on Newman’s property. The actor asked the time; Cox had no watch. Newman handed his over.
Cox wore it for nearly a decade, without thinking. In 1993, a Japanese man spotted it on his wrist. “Paul Newman watch!” the man said. He’d seen it on Newman’s wrist, in European fashion magazines.
The Times explains that “Newman, with his rugged good looks, no-nonsense air and, yes, really cool watch, (had become) a staple of style blogs and Pinterest boards, where the actor was hailed an all-American king of cool to rival Steve McQueen.”
But no one knew that for years the watch belonged to Newman’s daughter’s ex-boyfriend. In fact, 3 years ago, the watch site Hodinkee listed it as one of the 12 “Greatest Missing Watches” (alongside Pablo Picasso’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Triple Calendar, John Lennon’s Patek Philippe 2499 and Fidel Castro’s Rolex GMT-Master.)
Much later, Cox learned that his — that is, Newman’s — watch had its own Wikipedia page.
Now he’s decided to auction off the watch. He’ll give “a big portion” of the proceeds to the Nell Newman Foundation, which focuses on environmental issues.
Absentee bids have already come in.
Watch this space.
(To read the entire New York Times story, click here.)