- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2017

A four-pound brass lock previously installed on a door jimmied open by the burglars who broke into the Watergate Complex and raided the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972 is about to hit the auction block.

Nate D. Sanders Auctions of Los Angeles said bidding will start at $50,000 when the peculiar piece of U.S. presidential history goes up for grabs Thursday evening.

Indeed, the Watergate door lock ultimately sold for $62,500, Sanders told The Washington Times after Thursday’s auction ended. The identity of the winning bidder was not immediately known.

The lock was installed on a door in a Watergate stairwell that burglars used to enter the DNC headquarters on behalf of the committee to re-elect President Richard Nixon on June 17, 1972.

The burglary was foiled after Watergate security guard Frank Willis discovered a piece of duct tape covering the latch of a stairwell door in the building’s basement. Willis removed the tape and continued his rounds, only to find that the latch was re-taped within minutes, effectively preventing it from locking, he later recalled. Willis called the police to report a break-in, and responding officers found and arrested five men attempting to burglarize the DNC’s sixth floor offices.

Authorities and journalists ultimately traced the break-in and subsequent cover-up to the White House, triggering the resignations of multiple members of the Nixon administration including the president himself.

The lock being sold Thursday was previously installed on the Watergate’s “stairwell #2” and led directly into DNC headquarters, according to the auction house. It’s being sold with its inner and outer knobs, original key and latch, all mounted to a wood display and accompanied by notarized letters of provenance signed by locksmith James Rednowers and former Watergate superintendent Jim Herrald.

The lock was removed a day after the break-in after the Watergate Improvement Association promptly requested and received a new one, according to the auction house. Mr. Rednowers installed the replacement and kept the original for himself before eventually giving it Mr. Herrald as a memento, Sanders Auctions said.

“Americans’ fascination with Watergate has continued for nearly five decades. Historians and collectors will be intrigued by this lock, which symbolizes the downfall of the Nixon administration,” Mr. Sanders said in a press release.

All five burglars — James McCord, Bernard Barker, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez and Frank Sturgis — were either convicted or pleaded guilty. Willis, the security guard, died in 2000.


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