Legal Battle Over Marlon Brando's Rolex GMT-Master Watch Freezes Collection

Legal Battle Over Marlon Brando’s Rolex GMT-Master Watch Freezes Collection

A Rolex GMT-Master watch previously owned by Marlon Brando, which fetched over $5 million, is at the heart of a legal battle involving approximately 100 other high-value timepieces. This dispute has emerged between an Oman businessman, Mohammed Zaman, and the renowned auction house Christie’s, leading to a court-ordered freeze on the collection.

Zaman, a dedicated watch collector, initiated a civil lawsuit in Geneva following Christie’s auction of 113 watches from his collection on November 6, achieving a total sale amount of $42,418,914. In response to the lawsuit, a Geneva court has mandated that the auctioned watches remain in Christie’s possession until a resolution is reached. Notably, the collection includes the iconic watch worn by Brando in the film “Apocalypse Now,” recognizable by its absence of a bezel and the engraving of the actor’s name on the case back.

Christie’s has advised the auction’s winning bidders to delay their payments until the dispute is settled, expressing regret over the inconvenience caused to its clients. The auction house is actively seeking a resolution to the matter, challenging what it views as interference with the sale process.

The legal claim hinges on the Swiss Civil Code of Obligations, which allows for a challenge to an auction’s outcome if it is believed to have been influenced by unlawful or immoral means. Christie’s has refuted any allegations against it and is eager to resolve the dispute to release the watches to their rightful owners.

The auction itself was notable for a delay caused by a last-minute reserve bid placed by a third-party guarantor, ensuring a minimum price for each lot. This action, along with adjustments to the low estimate on each watch, significantly raised the auction’s minimum bid price, leaving many potential bidders unable to participate as expected.

Experts and industry watchers have described the situation surrounding the Zaman auction as unprecedented. The legal dispute not only highlights the complexities involved in high-stakes auctions but also underscores the significant value and emotional attachment associated with rare and historic timepieces.