The watch was auctioned off as part of a catalog that included a blue dress that once belonged to Hitler’s wife, Eva Braun; signed photos and correspondence of Nazi officials; and other items belonging to the Nazi leader. The auctions came under fire on Thursday in an open letter signed by 34 Jewish leaders, who accused the auction house of “heinous” dealings that overlooked “the memory, suffering and pain of others” for financial gain.
In a telephone interview, Alexander Historical Auctions president Bill Panagopulos said he appreciated the opinions of Jewish leaders, although he found them frustrating. He said the buyer – whose identity Panagopulos declined to reveal – is a European Jew.
“A lot of people donate [Nazi artifacts] to museums and institutions, as we have done,” he said in a separate emailed statement. “Others need the money or simply choose to sell. It’s not our decision. The sale resulted in death threats against him and his family, Panagopulos said.
Hitler’s “weapon of mass destruction” has been hidden for decades. This weekend, someone bought it.
The Maryland auction house has sold other Nazi memorabilia in the past, including a Hitler Youth dagger that fetched $120 in 2016 and a Nazi flag that sold for $260 three years earlier.
However, says Panagopulos, most of his sales are unrelated to World War II. He sold a photograph of George A. Custer, the Civil War general who fought for the Union but also killed Native Americans, for $460. A seal designed for the Confederate government, which supported slavery, cost $3,250.
Alexander Historical Auctions also sold less controversial artifacts. These include an 1821 letter from Albert Gallatin, who served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Thomas Jefferson and spoke out against slavery, as well as a pipe that once belonged to the former president. Ulysses S. Grant.