Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts’s Jazz-Age Collection Heads to Auction, Led by an Inscribed Copy of ‘The Great Gatsby’


A massive collection of first-edition books, jazz memorabilia, and other items owned by the late Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts will soon hit the block at Christie’s. More than 500 lots available for bidding over two parts of the sale, with the live portion taking place at Christie’s in London on September 28.

Watts, considered one of the greatest drummers of all time, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and won three Grammy Awards for his work with the band. He died of throat cancer in 2021 at the age of 80 and left behind a massive collection showcasing his love of jazz music and jazz-era literature.

“Charlie was the heartbeat of the Rolling Stones for nearly 60 years. He was totally unique and devoted to jazz and literature from boyhood,” Watts’s bandmates Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood said in a joint statement. “He was the quintessential English gentleman and his absence is a great loss for us all. We miss him hugely.”

Among the highlights from Watts’s extensive jazz collection is a copy of with an inscription F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to Harold Goldman, whom he called “the original Gatsby.” Christie’s said the book “continues to define the Jazz Age.”

“For Harold Goldman, the original ‘Gatsby’ of this story, with thanks for letting me reveal secrets of his past. Alcatraz Cell Block 17,” the inscription reads, referring to the office at MGM Studios where the two worked as screenwriters.

The book previously sold at a Bonhams auction in June 2015 for $191,000 and is expected to be among the highest ticket items at Christie’s, earning as much as $300,000.

F. Scott Fitzgerald inscription_The Great Gatsby

A signed copy of is expected to lead the auction. Courtesy of Christie’s.

Also up for sale are an annotated printed score for George Gershwin’s , a pair of awards received by famed saxophonist Charlie Parker, and books by literary giants from George Orwell to Agatha Christie, and from (Sherlock Holmes creator) Arthur Conan Doyle to James Joyce.

“Charlie was my dearest old friend since early childhood and in our early teens we both developed a lifelong love of jazz. Charlie of course became a member of the greatest rock band in the world but his love of jazz never left him,” Dave Green, a childhood friend of Watts, said. “His collection of jazz memorabilia, which he started in his teens and built up during his years with the Stones, is truly astonishing; it reflects his enduring love of the music and the musicians who made it.”


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