Never before seen items once belonging to Hollywood royalty are heading to auction this week. The items come from the collection of Jane Deacy, best known as the agent of iconic 1950s heartthrob James Dean.
The items are set to go to auction beginning this Thursday through a Los Angeles-based auction house.
Dean, whose star burned bright and was extinguished in an instant, was one of the most famous actors in America, becoming a global icon for his performances in celebrated films, “Rebel Without a Cause,” “East of Eden,” and “Giant.”
Over the span of only three years, Dean’s meteoric rise saw him become a household name after previously living in anonymity as a struggling actor in New York. His untimely death in a car accident in San Luis Obispo County in 1955 sent shockwaves through Hollywood and across the globe.
He was only 24 years old at the time, and was widely regarded as one of the most famous actors in the world.
Now personal items and correspondence between Dean and his New York agent are heading to auction after they were discovered in Deacy’s estate.
The collection includes nearly 400 lots of personal items and documents that once belonged to Dean before they were given or ended up in the possession of his former agent. What makes this particular collection unique, other than its immense size, is the fact that much of Dean’s possessions have remained in his estate, passing down among his family.
But these unseen items belonged to Deacy, meaning Hollywood history buffs will have the chance to bid on some of the rarest items associated with one of the most influential actors of the 20th Century.
Among the items available for auction are the original Warner Bros. contracts for his three most famous films, which launched Dean into the public conscience.
There are also two hand written notes to Deacy from Dean that reveal “intimate details” of his life, including descriptions of his anxiety, familial disputes and his need to discreetly find a dentist — Dean had two false front teeth and was apparently very self conscious about it.
Also included is the original registration card for one of his motorcycles — Dean was a prolific motorcyclist who was known to ride around Los Angeles, sometimes with a famous actress in tow.
Nate Sanders, whose auction house is handling the sale, said the collection of the Hollywood icon’s belongings was “unprecedented,” to say the least.
“While a few individual letters or signed documents have been sold, a James Dean collection of this size and quality has never been available since Dean’s death almost 70 years ago,” Sanders said.
Sanders added that, although James Dean is considered the posterboy for the strong and silent tough guys of early Hollywood, the collection reveals a deeply intimate and unseen personal side of a tortured artist.
Included in the collection is a signed photo of Dean addressed to Deacy, in which he refers to her as “Mom.” Dean grew up without a mother for most of his childhood and had a rocky relationship with his stepmother, leaving his one-time agent to fill a maternal role in his life.
The auction officially begins on Thursday and prospective buyers can submit their bids online. Bidding begins at 5 p.m. and will continue until 30 minutes after the last bid is received.
Starting bids range from $100 for the motorcycle registration card, to $7500 for the signed photo addressed to Deacy, with contracts and handwritten letters falling somewhere in between.
To see the complete collection, click here.