By Michelle Graff
This is the Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 that, it is believed, Steve McQueen gave as a gift to his longtime stuntman Loren Janes. The watch has been withdrawn from Phillips’ upcoming auction due to the objections of the late actor’s family.
New York—The Rolex Submariner that allegedly once belonged to the King of Cool and landed with one of his favorite stuntmen will not be offered at auction this fall.

Back in June, Phillips announced the sale of a Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 that it said was worn by Steve McQueen and then gifted in the 1970s to Loren Janes, who stood in as a stunt double for the late actor in multiple movies and TV shows.

Making the story even more fantastic was the fact that the timepiece was said to have survived the 2016 Sand Fire in California that consumed Janes’ home.

The watch’s pre-sale estimate came in at $300,000 to $600,000, but given how Rolexes with an interesting backstory have been selling at auction lately, there were expectations that the timepiece would garner much more.

Then questions started to surface.

Watch world experts, like Jake Ehrlich of Jake’s Rolex World, expressed doubts the timepiece’s provenance, and so did McQueen’s son Chad, backed by an attorney and the estate of his late father. The lawyer for the McQueen estate sent out an official statement saying it disputed the provenance of the watch but offered no further details.

Ehrlich, in particular, launched an extensive investigation into the history of the timepiece, eventually concluding that McQueen likely did give this particular watch to Janes but never wore it himself. (A lengthy post documenting his final conclusions in the mysterious case of the Steve McQueen Submariner can be read on the Jake’s Rolex World website.)

Phillips eventually reached the same conclusion—that the watch was a gift from McQueen to his former stuntman but it had some of the details wrong in the original release announcing the timepiece’s sale—but opted to withdraw it from its upcoming auction anyway, citing the displeasure of the McQueen family.

The auction house’s official statement on the matter reads in part: “While new information arose regarding the timing of McQueen’s gift and whether he wore the watch, we remain confident Steve McQueen gave the watch to Loren Janes based on further evidence and testimonials from people close to [both men]. Despite numerous attempts to engage in discussions with the McQueen family, making clear that Phillips was committed to offering the watch with the corrected information, the family remains unsupportive of the sale … Without the McQueen family’s support we are unable to proceed.”

Arthur Barens, the attorney for the McQueen estate, could not be reached for comment on the auction house’s decision by deadline.

Phillips upcoming New York watch auction originally was scheduled for Oct. 25 but will now take place Dec. 5. The change in schedule had nothing to do with the controversy over the McQueen Submariner, a spokesman for the auction house said.

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