We rarely think of J. Pierpont Morgan as a poor man. A man trapped by circumstance, fated to lead a life of deprivation and failure.
But after perusing the Boston Harbor Auctions extensive nautical sale, which includes objets, amenities, instruments and memorabilia from Morgan's various Gilded Age sailing steamer yachts, one is left with no other conclusion.
Because when all was said and done, when the pieces from the two vast sets of gold-rimmed Mintons china, adorned with the colors of the Corsair--Morgan named all his yachts Corsair--crossed with the burgee of the New York Yacht Club, where he was Commodore, are dispersed, one realizes the painful shame that taunted Morgan himself every time he made a president or robber baron another drink: he did not own this ice bucket.
Lot 1008: Silver
UPDATE Whoops, or maybe he did. The PDF version of the catalogue gives an estimate of $4-5,000. And though the text for the bucket doesn't make the claim, the overall catalogue presentation makes it sound like it's a Morgan item. I called the auction house about the discrepancy, and the representative told me they increased the estimate because they learned the bucket is solid silver, not plate. And while there is no proof it came from Morgan's yacht(s), it does come from the same source as all the documented Morgan material. So who knows?