James Dean Collectibles
James Dean collectibles are items of celebrity memorabilia relating to the celebrated American actor James Dean.
James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American film actor since regarded as a cultural icon thanks to his roles in classic movies including Rebel Without a Cause (1955), East of Eden (1955) and Giant (1956).
Dean’s legacy rests primarily on these films, filmed prior to his death in a car crash aged 24.
Memorabilia dealers have often referred to “the James Dean effect” – when the death of an enduring icon causes values of their memorabilia to appreciate over time.
On the morning of September 30, 1955, Dean and his mechanic Rolf Wütherich set off in Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder for a sports car race at Salinas, California.
They were driving west on U.S. Route 466 (later State Route 46) near when a black-and-white 1950 Ford Custom Tudor coupe driven by 23-year-old Cal Poly student Donald Turnupseed crossed into Dean's lane. The two cars hit almost head on.
Dean was pronounced dead on arrival at 5:59pm at Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital. His last known words, uttered right before impact, were said to have been: "That guy's gotta stop… He'll see us.”
Dean was the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and remains the only person to have two posthumous acting nominations. The American Film Institute ranked him the 18th best male movie star on their AFI's 100 Years… 100 Stars list in 2009.
Dean's estate still earns about $5,000,000 per year, according to Forbes Magazine's Top Earners for 2004 list.
Notable James Dean collectibles
Several items of vintage clothing worn by James Dean have been sold at auction.
Jeans worn by James Dean in Giant were sold for $35,850 at Heritage Auction Galleries in October 2006.
The coat jacket worn by James Dean in East of Eden was also sold by Heritage Auction Galleries in October 2006. It was bought for $26,680. The same auction also saw a pair of trousers that Dean wore in East of Eden sell for $15,535.
In 1996, the U.S. Postal Service added a James Dean commemorative postage stamp to its Legends of Hollywood stamp series.
Dean owned and was killed in a Porsche 550 Spyder aka the “Little Bastard”.
Among collectors, only three permanently traceable components of the James Dean Porsche Spyder are known to exist.
These include the transmission/rear axle assembly #10046 from the chassis (#550.0055) which has been featured in many Dean/Porsche articles as well as on national television.
The Porsche Spyder engine #P90059 is reported to be still in California, but has not been seen. It is reported to still be in the possession of the son of the late Dr. Eschrich, who was present at the hospital where Dean died.
The Porsche Spyder Transaxle has been described as "legendary, full of intrigue and excitement; the most significant and sought after collectible of James Dean".
In April, 2008, Heritage Auction Galleries sold the Signed Registration for Dean’s final race, to which he was driving at the time of his crash, for $23,900.
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