Christie's New York, The Vitale Collection of Highly Important European Clocks, Part I, October 30, 1996, lot 83
Jean-Antoine Lépine (1720-1814) was one of the leading Parisian clock and watchmakers of the Louis XVI period, and his business was continued by his son-in-law Claude-Pierre Raguet and his descendants well into the early 20th century at their premises in the Place des Victoires. He supplied clocks to the King and the King's sister Madame Elisabeth. Francis X. Vitale was a chief corporate officer for a multinational chemical company in New Jersey and an obsessive collector of antique European clocks, which led him to become a part-time dealer in his spare time with a gallery in the coastal community of Spring Lake, NJ that enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest collections of timepieces in the world. In 1996 it was discovered he had defrauded his company of more than $12 million over a period of eight years to support his acquisitions, and his entire stock was seized and auctioned in two sales in New York and London in 1996 as restitution to his former employer (New York Times, October 1, 1997, 'In a Passion for Antique Clocks, Executive Embezzled $12 million').