Top 5 James Dean memorabilia

Paul Fraser Collectibles reveals the top 5 auctioned memorabilia from Hollywood heart-throb James Dean.

5. The Road to Happiness


James Dean The Road to Happiness
Dean's ironically titled artwork

This surreal painting comes from the hand of the man himself and stands as one of the few artworks created during his tragically short life. Somewhat ironically titled, the painting was created by the star in 1954 and bears his "JD" initials in red marker on the reverse.

After being passed between Dean's friends since its creation, the surprisingly artistic work sold through Heritage Auctions in 2006 for $8,962.

4. East of Eden outfit

James Dean East of Eden
This coat gave collectors the chance to recreate his iconic style


Dean's performance in East of Eden was one of just three starring roles that propelled him to fame as an actor and saw him captivate audiences worldwide. East of Eden director, Elia Kazan, reportedly picked the young actor due to his likeness to Marlon Brando, a comparison that would be made for the rest of Dean's life.  

This coat forms part of the outfit worn by Dean as Cal Trask in the 1955 film. The complete outfit was sold in 2006 for a combined price of $57, 756, giving one lucky bidder the chance to recreate Dean's iconic style. Also on offer were jeans worn in Giant and a pair of brown trousers from Rebel Without a Cause.

3. Scrap metal from "Little Bastard"

James Dean little bastard fragment
One of the few fragments of Little Bastard to survive


Following the release of East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause in 1955, James Dean spent his new-found wealth on a Porsche 550 Spyder, which he dubbed "Little Bastard". Dean was a keen driving enthusiast who had raced his numerous other cars without injury in the past. Unfortunately, the Porsche was to be the exception.

Alec Guinness reportedly warned his fellow actor: "If you get in that car, you'll be found dead in it by this time next week." His warning was made exactly seven days before Dean was killed at the wheel of the Porsche on September 30, 1955. This scrap of metal was taken from the wreckage by a construction worker who witnessed the crash. One of the few surviving fragments from the crash, it sold for $11,352 in 2006.

2.  Signed final race registration

James Dean race registration
Registration for a race that he would never enter


Dean was en route to the 1st Annual Salinas Airport Sports Car Races when he died, where he was due to race in his beloved Porsche. This registration form, signed by Dean on September 18, 1955, was his entry to the race he would never contest.

Undeniably one of the most important James Dean documents to be sold at auction, the registration form captures the events that led to his death. It sold for $23,900 in 2008, providing an unmissable collectible from a moment that shocked Hollywood.

1. Love Letters to Barbara Glenn

James Dean love letters
A letter many women would love to have recieved


With the mystery surrounding James Dean's sexuality constantly discussed by his fans and collectors, these letters attracted a lot of attention when they came to auction in 2011.

Sent in 1954 to his long-term girlfriend and confident, Barbara Glenn, the letters provide an intimate glimpse into the heart-throb's personal affairs and (almost) put those old rumours to rest. The two young actors shared a volatile relationship, with many splits and reconciliations that would eventually end with Glenn leaving Dean for another actor, Mark Gordon.

The letters stand as some of the very few items where Dean is removed from his outgoing public persona to reveal a darker and yet more sensitive side. A total of three letters were sold in a lot, along with numerous photographs of the couple together, having been consigned by the son of Barbara Glenn. The combined group went for £22,500 at Christie's London.

James Dean memorabilia is highly sought after by collectors, as his shortened life resulted in very few quality items available on the market. Values have continued to grow, with expert collectors often referring to the "James Dean effect" to describe collectibles that continually appreciate due to the tragic death of an icon. The PFC40 Autograph Index reported a 4.17% increase for signed items in the last year alone and a 681.3% increase since 2000.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a stunning range of James Dean memorabilia currently in stock. This signed yearbook shows the young star looking fresh-faced in his high school days with the inscription: "Jim is our regular basketball guy, and when you're around him - time will fly!" beneath. 

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock