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    Description

    Franklin Roosevelt: Personal 14k Gold Wristwatch presented to the president on his sixty-third birthday by five newsmen who covered The White House, including his son-in-law John Boettiger, Jr. The back of the watch is engraved "Franklin Delano Roosevelt/ with/ Loyalty, Respect/ and Affection/ January 30, 1945".

    The watch, retailed by Tiffany & Company, New York, has calendar day and month windows, subsidiary seconds at six o'clock, outer date numerals and luminescent batons. The movement is seventeen jewels and made by Movado. The 14K gold case was made by Wadsworth. The strap, contemporary to the watch, has a replacement buckle and shows wear. The early acrylic crystal has minor age crazing.

    The day he received the watch, President Roosevelt was preparing for the Malta Conference where he met with Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the Combined Chiefs of Staff to plan the final campaign against the Germans. From there, FDR flew to the Yalta Conference, the last meeting between FDR, Churchill, and Joseph Stalin. Following Yalta Conference FDR flew to Egypt and boarded the USS Quincy where he met with Farouk I, king of Egypt, Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia, and King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. After a final meeting between Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the Quincy steamed for Algiers where Roosevelt conferred with American ambassadors to Britain, France, and Italy. When he returned to the United States, he addressed Congress on March 1 about his travels. Many people were shocked to see how old, thin, and frail Roosevelt looked. He spoke while seated in the well of the House of Representatives, an unprecedented concession to his physical incapacity. On March 30, 1945, Roosevelt went to Warm Springs to rest before his anticipated appearance at the founding conference of the United Nations. On the afternoon of April 12, Roosevelt said, "I have a terrific headache" and was carried into his bedroom. The doctor diagnosed that he had suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Later that day, he died.

    This wristwatch, worn regularly by FDR during the last months of his life, was obtained from the grandson of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, John Roosevelt Boettiger, and will include an original Letter of Provenance from him. To view the Letter of Provenance for this lot, please click on this link.


    More Information:

    The extended description below was supplied by the consignor. We are making it available to our web bidders who are interested in more in-depth research and broader historical perspective. Please note that presentation (i.e. framing), lot divisions, and interpretations of condition and content may occasionally differ from our descriptions. Assertions of fact and subjective observations contained in this description represent the opinion of the consignor. These remarks have not been checked for accuracy by Heritage Auctions, and we assume no responsibility for their accuracy; they are offered purely to allow the bidder insight into the way the consignor has viewed the item(s) in question. No right of return or claim of lack of authenticity or provenance based upon this extended description will be granted.

     

    A fabulous, unique, and historic personal item belonging to FDR, the wristwatch he wore at the 1945 Yalta Conference during World War II where the three leaders of the principal Allied powers, the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union, met and conferred on Allied war strategy for the last time, shortly before FDR's death on April 12, 1945. The wristwatch, manufactured by Tiffany & Company, with a leather strap, was presented to President Roosevelt by five newsmen who covered The White House, including his son-in-law John Boettiger, Jr., the second husband of FDR's daughter Anna. The back of the watch is engraved "Franklin Delano Roosevelt/ with/ Loyalty, Respect/ and Affection/ January 30, 1945." FDR died ten weeks later on April 12, 1945. The watch was worn regularly by FDR during the last two months of his life, including perhaps to the Yalta Conference in February, 1945, and he may have been wearing this wristwatch when he died on April 12, 1945 at Warm Springs, Georgia. The wristwatch was obtained from John Roosevelt Boettiger, the son of Anna Roosevelt and John Boettiger, Jr., and the grandson of FDR and ER. FDR and ER's grandson John Roosevelt Boettiger wrote to Dr. Joseph J. Plaud on September 23, 2003: "Dear Dr. Plaud:/ I am happy to describe and authenticate the Roosevelt items now in your possession./ This gold wristwatch made by Tiffany & Co. was given by my father, Col. John Boettiger, and a small number of his new colleagues and friends, to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the occasion of the President's birthday, January 30, 1945. Neither those who made the gift, or he who wore the watch with pleasure and gratitude, knew that it would be FDR's last living birthday, that he would die, an exhausted but triumphant leader, first of this nation's most demanding war, then of the framework of peace to follow, on April 12 of that same year, less than ten weeks later./ My father, John Boettiger, was a longtime newspaper reporter and publisher who served with distinction in the U. S. Army, in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Germany. He returned home in late 1944 to his wife, my mother, Anna Roosevelt, the President's oldest child and only daughter, who was serving at her father's right hand in The White House during those last eventful years of his life. After my father left for the war, she and I moved from Seattle, Washington to The White House, where we lived until my grandfather's death./ This wristwatch, with its inscription of affection and respect on the back, was thus given by a grateful son-in-law and his closest friends, who knew the President well and admired him as a man, as a political craftsman of unprecedented skill, as a leader of his nation and the cause of freedom in war, and as an architect of the peace. They loved him; soon after their gift, they mourned his loss as they celebrated the victory for which he and countless others gave their lives./ When my mother gave me her father's last wristwatch, the one he may have worn when she accompanied him to the Yalta Conference, indeed, that he may have been wearing when he died, I chose not to replace its already fraying leather band. The faint darkening indications of sweat on it are his, their faintness mute testimony to how short the time he had to wear it." Wow! The Yalta conference in which FDR wore this special Tiffany & Company wristwatch was held February 4 to February 11, 1945. The major Allied leaders met at Yalta in the Crimea to plan the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany. It had already been decided that Germany would be divided into occupied zones administered by United States, British, French, and Soviet forces. The conferees accepted the principle that the Allies had no duty toward the Germans except to provide minimum subsistence, declared that the German military industry would be abolished or confiscated, and agreed that major war criminals would be tried before an international court, which subsequently presided at Nürnberg. The determination of reparations was assigned to a commission. How to deal with the defeated or liberated countries of eastern Europe was the main problem discussed at the conference. The agreements reached, which were accepted by Stalin, called for "interim governmental authorities broadly representative of all democratic elements in the population . . . and the earliest possible establishment through free elections of governments responsive to the will of the people." Britain and the United States supported a Polish government-in-exile in London, while the Soviets supported a communist-dominated Polish committee of national liberation in Lublin. Neither the Western Allies nor the Soviet Union would change its allegiance, so they could only agree that the Lublin committee would be broadened to include representatives of other Polish political groups, upon which the Allies would recognize it as a provisional government of national unity that would hold free elections to choose a successor government. Poland's future frontiers were also discussed but not decided. Regarding the Far East, a secret protocol stipulated that, in return for the Soviet Union's entering the war against Japan within "two or three months" after Germany's surrender, the U.S.S.R. would regain the territory lost to Japan in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/05, and the status quo in pro-Soviet Outer Mongolia would be maintained. Stalin agreed to sign a pact of alliance and friendship with China. The United Nations organization charter had already been drafted, and the conferees worked out a compromise formula for voting in the Security Council. The Soviets withdrew their claim that all 16 Soviet republics should have membership in the General Assembly. After the agreements reached at Yalta were made public in 1946, they were harshly criticized in the United States. This was because, as events turned out, Stalin failed to keep his promise that free elections would be held in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Instead, communist governments were established in all those countries, noncommunist political parties were suppressed, and genuinely democratic elections were never held. At the time of the Yalta Conference, both Roosevelt and Churchill had trusted Stalin and believed that he would keep his word. Neither leader had suspected that Stalin intended that all the Popular Front governments in Europe would be taken over by communists. Roosevelt and Churchill were further inclined to assent to the Yalta agreements because they assumed, mistakenly as it turned out, that Soviet assistance would be sorely needed to defeat the Japanese in the Pacific and Manchuria. In any case, the Soviet Union was the military occupier of eastern Europe at the war's end, and so there was little the Western democracies could do to enforce the promises made by Stalin at Yalta. Truly a one of a kind, historic, and fabulous item from FDR.





    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,906

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