WASHINGTON -— It's the lock that launched a two-year investigation and took down a president. And now more than four decades later — and for a starting bid of $50,000 — it can be a really wonky conversation piece.
Nate D. Sanders Auctions will auction off the four-pound brass lock Thursday that burglars picked to bust into the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate Complex in 1972. The Nixon administration's attempt to cover up the plot to bug the DNC offices would come to be known as "Watergate," spawning the "-gate" trend of scandal-naming for generations to come.
Where's the lock been all this time? Locksmith James Rednowers first got a hold of it in 1972, according to the Los Angeles-based auction house handling its sale. Rednowers had been called in to replace the busted lock the day after the break-in and decided to keep the original - for the culture, we assume. A few years later, Watergate superintendent Jim Herrald asked Rednowers for the lock as a memento. Now the piece of history will head to the highest bidder.
"Americans' fascination with Watergate has continued for nearly five decades," Sanders, the auction house owner, said in a statement. "Historians and collectors will be intrigued by this lock, which symbolizes the downfall of the Nixon administration."