Home Ex-FTX Europe chief pays record $1.5M for Titanic gold watch

Ex-FTX Europe chief pays record $1.5M for Titanic gold watch


  • Former FTX Europe head Patrick Gruhn paid $1.5 million for John Jacob Astor IV's gold pocket watch from the Titanic.
  • The purchase drew criticism amidst FTX's bankruptcy, with Gruhn defending it as a museum piece.
  • FTX's collapse led to legal action, with Gruhn relocating and working on a cryptocurrency exchange in Europe.

The former head of FTX Europe has paid the highest sum ever for a piece of Titanic memorabilia. Patrick Gruhn reportedly paid $1.5 million for a gold pocket watch recovered from the ship’s richest passenger, The Wall Street Journal stated.

The watch was owned by John Jacob Astor IV, an American real estate tycoon, who was aboard the ill-fated ship with his pregnant wife, Madeleine Astor, after their honeymoon in Europe.

When the Titanic struck an iceberg in 1912, an officer told Astor that he would not be able to board a lifeboat until all women and children were safely evacuated. A week later, Astor’s body was found in the water, along with his possessions—a 14-karat gold watch, gold and diamond cuff links, a diamond ring, and a gold pencil, according to the report.

The timepiece was expected to fetch between £100,000 and £150,000, but vastly exceeded expectations.

Gruhn revealed that he used funds obtained from the sale of his companies to purchase the historic watch for his wife, Maren Gruhn. However, he added that the watch would be displayed in a museum, so that others could enjoy the timeless artefact.



The collapse of FTX

In July 2023, the FTX bankruptcy estate requested that a U.S. bankruptcy court allow the recovery of over $323.5 million from the leadership of FTX Europe. As part of a settlement, Gruhn and others then agreed to purchase FTX’s European assets for approximately $33 million. Gruhn also stated that he was unaware of the FTX fraud prior to its collapse.

However, there has been criticism over the Titanic watch purchase, as many have yet to see any of their money returned from the FTX scandal. “The irony of this cannot be overstated,” finance writer Erin Arvendlund posted on X.

Since the FTX collapse in November 2022, Gruhn has relocated to Oregon. From there, he operates a German Catholic TV network and is working to establish a cryptocurrency derivatives exchange in Europe.

Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder and former CEO of the now-defunct crypto exchange, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the fraud. However, Bankman-Fried’s defense team said they would appeal the sentence.

During the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan remarked that Bankman-Fried had not offered “a word of remorse” for his “terrible crimes.” However, he has since expressed regret, saying: “I’m haunted, every day, by what was lost. I never intended to hurt anyone or take anyone’s money.”

Featured image: Reagan Foundation via YouTube

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Suswati Basu
Tech journalist

Suswati Basu is a multilingual, award-winning editor and the founder of the intersectional literature channel, How To Be Books. She was shortlisted for the Guardian Mary Stott Prize and longlisted for the Guardian International Development Journalism Award. With 18 years of experience in the media industry, Suswati has held significant roles such as head of audience and deputy editor for NationalWorld news, digital editor for Channel 4 News and ITV News. She has also contributed to the Guardian and received training at the BBC As an audience, trends, and SEO specialist, she has participated in panel events alongside Google. Her…

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