James Dean Memorabilia
“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
James Dean is a cultural icon, an actor who shot to fame during the 1950s for his expression of teenage angst as outcast, solitary characters such as Jim Stark in the celebrated film Rebel Without a Cause and loner Cal Trask in the film version of John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden. Dean’s formative acting skills, good looks and charm made him an instant star. And his tragic death at the age of twenty-four, cut short a life filled with potential. Dean’s brief yet impactful career makes his items of memorabilia highly-coveted among fans of this exemplary, talented and luminous man.
The most expensive item of James Dean memorabilia that ever sold at auction was the black, pinstriped vest worn by Dean’s character Jett Rink in the actor’s last film Giant, from 1956. Dean was killed in a fatal car crash towards the end of filming, leaving his co-stars Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor, and the rest of the world, devastated. In fact, a few of his lines had to be overdubbed by an impersonator. Dean is credited as popularizing the open-front vest as a fashion accessory, and this vest worn by the actor, sold for $90,460 at Cooper Owen auction house in 2005.
Another high-value piece of Dean memorabilia, also an item of clothing, is the classic brown wool jacket worn by the actor in the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause. Dean’s character Jim Stark wears this blazer for much of the first act of the film, before changing into the iconic red jacket for the famous “chicken run” scene. This unobtrusive jacket also carries a unique provenance. After the film, the blazer ended up in the collection of Dean’s co-star Nick Adams. Who, in turn, gifted it to his dear friend Elvis Presley. The King of Rock and Roll later presented the jacket to his uncle and finally in 2011, this beloved blazer sold for $55,000 at the auction house Profiles in History.
James Dean carried around his gold, Elgin pocket watch as a lucky charm. He bought the watch in New York at the start of his acting career in 1951 and had his initials engraved on the front of the case. He even further personalized the timepiece by adding his father’s gold watch chain to the Elgin timepiece. In fact, Dean insisted on wearing the watch during the filming of East of Eden, despite the protests of director Elia Kazan. Later, the actor gifted the watch to his dear friend and Warner Bros. employee Tillier Starriet, who acted as his maternal support when Dean moved to Hollywood. This illustrious pocket watch sold for $42,000 in 2010 at Fame Bureau auction.
The Loan Companies has the expertise and knowledge to evaluate the most valuable and complicated of collateral. Be it Marlon Brando’s leather jacket from The Wild One, a Rolex owned by Paul Newman, or a signed letter from Cary Grant, our specialists are eager to evaluate your one-of-a-kind entertainment memorabilia. With three convenient locations in Beverly Hills, Chicago and New York, it is simple and easy to set up an appointment today.