A signed wooden box, containing a set of 24 cigars from the personal collection of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro, is expected to fetch $20,000 at an auction in the US. The Trinidad Fundadores cigar box retains its “Republica de Cuba” cigar warranty seal, which has been readhered to the cover. The box contains 24 cigars and is stamped on each end with “24 Fundadores”, with a maker’s mark on the bottom, “Habanos S A, Hecho en Cuba, Totalmente a mano.”
The box is accompanied by an image of Castro signing it for noted philanthropist Eva Haller, according to the Boston- based RR Auctions. “Castro handed to me the box of cigars. He gave them to me, because I jokingly asked him for it, when others lit a cigar,” Haller wrote in a letter dated March 2002. “I told him that if he signs the box, I will sell it and make lots of money. He thought that was funny,” she wrote.
Beginning in 1980, Trinidad Fundadores were exclusively produced for Fidel Castro and, until 1998, the only boxes that were allowed to leave Cuba had been gifts to foreign dignitaries. The brand made its official launch as a Cuban export in February 1998, and this box — from Castro’s personal stash — was signed and given away only. Cigars were an integral component of Castro’s heroic revolutionary image and, as such, this signed box is a truly remarkable historical artifact, according to the RR Auctions.