james dean jeans
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The world’s largest cache of James Dean memorabilia, stage costumes, posters and personal effects was “a grand slam” at a Saturday night auction in Dallas.
“The house was full, the bidding was frenzied, and spontaneous applause broke out on many occasions at the huge prices,” said Doug Norwine, director of music and entertainment memorabilia at Heritage Auction Galleries.
Most of the items came from David Loehr’s now-defunct James Dean Gallery in Gas City. Loehr had collected Dean items for 30 years and displayed them for 17 years at his gallery.
The most expensive auction item was a pair of jeans Dean wore in “Giant,” one of three movies the Hoosier actor made before dying in a 1955 car crash. The jeans sold for $35,850.
Dean’s black leather motorcycle jacket went for $33,460; a jacket he wore in “East of Eden” fetched $28,680; and a pair of pants and a shirt from “East of Eden” had winning bids of $15,535.
A white T-shirt Dean wore in “Rebel Without a Cause” went for $11,352.50.
The rarest item was a piece of the newly purchased Porsche 550 race car Dean was driving when he was killed. Appraised at $5,000, the belt buckle-sized piece of aluminum sold for $11,352.50.
The mangled car was sent around the country by the National Safety Council to warn teens about fast driving. The car disappeared from a locked van returning it to Los Angeles in 1960. The auction piece is the only known fragment of the car.
The two most unusual pieces in the auction were Dean’s fifth-grade school notebook and the lock, key and doorknobs to his New York apartment.
The notebook, which had a dozen examples of Dean writing his name, went for $5,976.19, below the estimated price of $10,000. The apartment lock, key and knobs went for $1,912. The estimated sale price was $350.
The lowest price paid for a Dean item in the auction was $39 for vintage editions of Robert Lindner’s book, “Rebel Without a Cause,” and a 1952 U.S. edition and 1959 Danish edition of John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.”