Michael Ovitz, Story of a Collector and his 3970

Michael Ovitz with Paul Newman
Michael Ovitz with Paul Newman

"I always felt I was on a mission. I always believed I could do anything. My whole life has been about risk and reward. All the decisions I have made are based on two factors: intellectual analysis and my instincts. When they meet, that's when I see the goal." Michael Ovitz

 

Class of '46, American businessman, investor and philanthropist, born in Chicago but raised in Los Angeles, Michael Steven Ovitz from a young age pursued one dream: to become a successful producer in Hollywood. From an early age, he was fascinated by the magic of film and entertainment. His journey began when he was just 20 years old, when he decided to move to New York to study at Syracuse University.

During those formative years, Ovitz realized that the film world was a competitive arena. Nevertheless, he had a firm belief: "Success is a matter of determination and hard work. If you really want something, you have to fight for it."

While a medical student at UCLA, Ovitz worked part-time at Universal Studios. After graduating in 1968, he got a job in the post office at the William Morris Agency. Within a year he was promoted to agent. Six years later, he and four other young colleagues left the company to found CAA with only a $21,000 bank loan. Ovitz recounts, "Of course I was afraid. I was just 27 years old at the time. For almost two years we took no salary. Our wives took turns as secretaries. In the first few years I couldn't get a good salary. table in a restaurant. I felt like an extra on the set."

 

Michael Ovitz wears a Rolex Datyona with a white dial
Michael Ovitz wears a Rolex Datyona with a white dial

The story tells how he soon became known for his ability to negotiate favorable contracts for his clients. One of his most famous quotes was, "I negotiate every contract as if it were the last one you will sign. This is the key to getting the most out of it."

His talent did not go unnoticed, and he soon earned a reputation as a man who knew how to do business. His determination was evident, and Ovitz was known to say, "There is no room for uncertainty in this business. If you don't believe in yourself, who will?"

His career took a decisive turn when he decided to found the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) together with Ron Meyer. CAA would become one of the most influential representative agencies in Hollywood, and Ovitz was determined to grow it. He was not afraid to challenge the status quo, stating, "Change is the only constant in this industry. You have to be ready to evolve and adapt."

The days of having to make do are long gone: soon CAA will move into a 65,000-square-foot building in Beverly Hills designed by architect IM Pei. Ovitz, who lived in the Brentwood area with his wife Judy and their three children, often attended Los Angeles Lakers games, where he could keep an eye on one of his clients: Magic Johnson. Every morning at dawn he practiced aikido, a Japanese form of self-defense that turns the attacker's impetus against himself. "We are portrayed as aggressive, which up to a point is also true, but everything is balanced."

Jack Nickolson with Michael Ovitz
Jack Nickolson with Michael Ovitz

 

With CAA, Ovitz represented some of Hollywood's top talent and had considerable influence on film and television production. He was determined to shape the future of the entertainment industry, arguing, "If you're not driving change, you're just following in the footsteps of others." His career was not without challenges and criticism, but Ovitz (now 76) maintained his steadfast determination. Eventually, his success as a producer and talent agent enabled him to realize his dream as a young man: to become a key figure in Hollywood. His story is an example of how determination and hard work can lead to success in the entertainment industry.

 

Michael Ovitz with Bill Murray
Michael Ovitz with Bill Murray

 

Ovitz resigned from CAA in 1995 to become president of The Walt Disney Company under Michael Eisner. However, his tenure at Disney was short and controversial. His tenure lasted only a few months and ended with his exit in January 1997, with a severance package (previously agreed upon) worth $38 million in cash and about $100 million in stock. His time at Disney was marked by tensions and conflicts with other company executives, and Ovitz failed to achieve his planned goals. His management was the subject of controversy and criticism, and ultimately his tenure at Disney is seen as a controversial chapter in his career.

Note how Ovitz, in his private life, acts essentially as a private investor: active in philanthropy, he donated $25 million in 1999 to lead fundraising efforts for the UCLA Medical Center and has contributed significantly to numerous other philanthropic activities. He is also considered among the top 200 art collectors in the world: he owns works by Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and many others.

 

Patek Philippe ref. 3970 in platinum, personalized with the MSO (Michael Steven Ovitz) logo. BONANNO Collection.
Patek Philippe ref. 3970 in platinum, personalized with the MSO (Michael Steven Ovitz) logo. BONANNO Collection.

 

Another great passion of Ovitzis watches., so much so that he has been included in the top ten most important collectors in the world. A friend of Philippe Stern, legend has it that he once saved him from a possibly fatal illness by taking him to the hospital in his personal helicopter. What is certain is the very strong bond between the two, which we can recognize thanks to a cexclusive concession that the American had from Stern himself: in practice-some say as a sign of gratitude for the help he received-Stern had several dozen "one-of-a-kind" watches made by Patek Philippe, customized at the request of Ovitz himself and marked by the presence at the bottom of the dial of the small logo with the initials M-S-O (Michael Steven Ovitz). A hallmark that collectors around the world first envied, because it was given to him exclusively, then "stormed" when the American billionaire's collection was put up for sale: all one-of-a-kind pieces, many of them kept so maniacally that they had never even been worn on the wrist

 

A detail of the MSO (Michael Steven Ovitz) logo. Keep in mind that the watches customized for Ovitz are all one-of-a-kind pieces. BONANNO Collection
A detail of the MSO (Michael Steven Ovitz) logo. Keep in mind that the watches customized for Ovitz are all one-of-a-kind pieces. BONANNO Collection

 

One of these is the Patek Philippe la ref. 3970 in platinum visible in the photos. It is a unique piece, featuring the MSO logo printed in white at six o'clock, interrupting the tachymeter track scale. A true masterstroke, a personalization that takes on a particularly relevant value because it was made in Geneva by the parent company, as is also shown by the homogeneity of the mold of the logo itself with respect to all the other inscriptions on the dial. 

 

"The hunt for the perfect watch is a challenge, but it is a challenge that makes life more fascinating," Ovitz once said, who reiterated, "Watches are silent witnesses to our lives, each telling a unique story." His career as a collector was not without its challenges, as the search for rare watches required dedication and in-depth knowledge. But Ovitz maintained his steadfast determination and continued to search for the most valuable pieces. "My passion for watches drives me to overcome every obstacle," he asserted. Eventually, his success as a watch collector enabled him to realize his youthful dream of becoming one of the world's most renowned collectors, but given his character we could not have expected anything else.

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