06: Fidel Castro’s personal assassination-prevention cigar box


Price:
Sale price£89,995
Stock:
In stock

Description

A Romeo y Julieta cigar box Fidel Castro used daily in his main office to avoid assassination. 

Signed in black pen by Castro on the underside of the lid. 

Comes with the original key, and the cigar that was in the box.

We believe this to be a unique, bespoke design from Romeo y Julieta. Note the compartments for differently-sized cigars. 

15 x 12 inches when closed.  

History 

In 1960, with continuing attempts on his life, Castro became aware of a CIA plot to poison one of the cigars he smoked. Or to put a cigar bomb in his cigar box. 

To save Castro from harm, his long-term mistress Natty Revuelta Clews gave Castro this cigar box along with a crystal and silver ashtray (see lot 7). 

As he did with most of his personal belongings, Castro then signed the cigar box. Only he and his protection team were allowed to touch items which Castro had signed. 

A photo of Castro was placed on the inside of the lid. 

Using this cigar box, Castro could be confident the contents would do him no injury. 

Castro placed the box on his desk in his main office. Castro would also take it with him when he travelled (hence the slight damage to the box’s feet).

Castro would routinely offer four of his generals cigars from the box, and tell them it was a present from him to keep them safe. 

After he stopped smoking in December 1984, Castro sent the box and ashtray to the home he shared with mistress Natty Revuelta Clews (Calle 35 #1476 entre 26th y 28 Nuevo Vedado). 

The box remained there until acquired by the present owner in the 2015-2016 estate sales of Natty Revuelta Clews, following her death in 2015. 

This cigar box is a key piece of Castro’s personal history, that perfectly conveys his constant fear of assassination. 

Cigars are synonymous with Fidel Castro. Consequently, all cigar-related Castro artefacts are in great demand. 

This is one of only three known cigar boxes genuinely signed by Fidel Castro.

Extra information provided by signed affidavit from Umberto Ramos Hernandez, bodyguard to Fidel Castro from 1971 to 1985, and bodyguard to Natty Revuelta Clews from 1985 to 2015.  

Further details

The cigar box had originally been used by Natty Revuelta Clews’ grandfather, and passed down to her by descent. 

The box was custom made by José "Pepin" Rodriguez Fernández, the then owner of the Romeo y Julieta brand.

We believe it is unique.  

Fernández made it for a Mr I Weber, who then gave it to his son Dr Andres Weber (1870-1950) - a celebrated dentist in Cuba’s liberation army in the war of independence (1895-1898). 

Dr Andres was a personal friend and family dentist to Herbert Clews, the grandfather of Natty Revuelta Clews. 

Dr Andres gifted the box to Herbert Clews. Following Herbet’s death in 1938, the cigar box passed to his daughter Natty Loreto "Natica" Clews Alvarez, and then to Natty Revuelta Clews. 

Castro gave each general a photo of the box. Natty Revuelta inscribed the history of the box on the back of each photo and placed her name at the bottom. Afterwards, Fidel Castro inscribed the back of the photo with the words "A gift of Fidel". See images. 

Provenance

Acquired by the present owner at the estate sale of Fidel Castro's mistress Natty Revuelta Clews, between December 2015 and July 2016.

The present owner is British businessman Mr Gary Shannon, who knew the Castro family and their associates for 20+ years from circa 2000. Mr Shannon helped provide technology and communications infrastructure to Cuba.

The item formed part of Mr Shannon’s private Jagdamer Museum of Castro and Guevara memorabilia, from 2016 to 2020.

Natty Revuelta Clews (December 26, 1925 – February 27, 2015) was the mistress of Fidel Castro from 1955 until her death. Their daughter, Alina, was born in 1956.

Revuelta - a wealthy socialite - was instrumental in assisting Castro overthrow the Batista regime in Cuba. 

Revuelta sold her jewels to support the Cuban rebels, helped plan the 26th of July Movement uprising in 1953 and, crucially, helped Fidel Castro co-ordinate the Cuban Revolution while he was imprisoned between 1953 and 1955, through exchanging secret messages with Castro.

Until this present auction and the revelation of Castro’s cigar box with secret compartments (lot 1), it was unknown how Castro transferred these secret messages to the 26th of July Movement while he was in prison.

The pair began their affair upon Castro’s release from prison in May 1955. 

Please note. The image of the box full of cigars is for reference only. 

Auction information

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