News & Politics

You Can Own the Door Lock That Started Watergate

Bids start at $50,000.

Photo of the Watergate lock via Nate D. Saunders Auctions.

Frank Wills found tape over a lock in a Watergate office building stairwell in June 17, 1972, and, well, you probably know what happened next.

This month the Nate D. Sanders auction house in Los Angeles will accept bids on the lock, which Watergate superintendent Jim Herrald received as a gift from the locksmith who replaced it. Herrald considered selling the lock 20 years ago but only attracted a $13,000 high bid. Bidding this time around starts at $50,000.

There may be more of this vital bit of American political history rusting in the bottom of someone’s toolbox somewhere. The burglars tampered with three locks, but the other two are so far lost to the ages–“They could be in a junk pile, for all I know,” Herrald told the Washington Post in 1997.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.