True grit: John Wayne and the story of his rare movie memorabilia


'Heritage Auctions' upcoming sale of The Personal Property of John Wayne begins tomorrow (October 6-7) and has already toured the United States.

Both the tour and tomorrow's sale will undoubtedly cement Wayne's status as one of the 20th century's most highly-regarded cinema icons, thanks to classic films including Sands of Iwo Jima and The Green Berets

Items in the sale will including around 50 movie scripts, many containing Wayne's handwritten notes, clothing and other personal items once owned by the man born Marion Mitchell Morrison (1907-1979).


We're expecting good results in Heritage's sale - especially bearing in mind Wayne's past successes on the auction block, comprising film costumes and Andy Warhol artworks (pictured above).

Among them was a unique silkscreen dated to 1986 as included in Warhol's portfolio Cowboys and Indians. It sold for $40,000 at Bloomsbury Auctions in 2008. The work is based on a still from Wayne's 1962 film The man who shot Liberty Valance.

Not that Wayne was too impressed... Due to a threat of legal action from the John Wayne Foundation (because of Warhols infringement of the image rights) the Factory re-called many impressions - hence the rarity of this work.

Warhol and Wayne's collaboration (unwitting on Wayne's part) brought together two legends. But how about a work which brought together three? One such piece sold for $22,000 at Philips De Pury and Company in 2010.

The photograph featuring John Wayne and Dean Martin on set in 1962 was taken by none other than Dennis Hopper. The gelatin silver print was signed and dated "D. Hopper 1962" and numbered of 15 on the reverse (see bottom picture).

John Wayne true grit


If photos and inspired artwork doesn't bring you close enough to the legend, how about clothing worn by Wayne himself? Among the screen cowboy's most iconic items was, of course, his Stetson hat one sold for $75,000 at High Noon Western Americana in 2007.

The sweat band read "Made by Stetson especially for John Wayne" and marked "Nudies Rodeo Taylor North Hollywood California XXXXXX Stetson Made in USA."

More iconic still is Wayne's onscreen ensemble from 1969's True Grit (middle photograph), including a brown rough-out leather vest with lapels, four pockets, decorative string ties on either side. The label reads "Western Costume Co / Hollywood / 2318-4 / John Wayne / Chest 50".

The ensemble was originally acquired in the 1970s by Gary Hess, a six-year employee of the Duke Engineering Company (DECO) directly from John Wayne himself. The ensemble brought $27,000 would undoubtedly be worth significantly more today.


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