B&B to Offer King of Cool’s Collectibles at Auction


Motorcycles, furniture, collectibles and memorabilia owned by the legendary actor Steve McQueen highlight Bonhams & Butterfields’ annual offering of vintage bikes and motoring collectibles at the Petersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles on November 11, 2006. As a kick-off event for the popular LA Love Ride, the auction is attracting interest from collectors, fans and motorcycling aficionados worldwide.

The late actor’s property, never-before publicly displayed, is being offered by his widow and includes his circa 1920 Indian Powerplus Daytona racing bike, expected to bring $60,000 to $90,000 when bidding opens. A circa 1934 Indian Sport Scout, one of the maker’s most successful models in plthe 1930s, is expected to bring as much as $20,000 while the “King of Cool’s” 1929 Harley-Davidson, finished in khaki green with red and gold striping, is estimated at $12,000 to $18,000.

The sale includes one of the actor’s favorite vehicles, a 1958 GMC 101-series pickup truck. McQueen kept this truck as part of his ten-car collection housed at a Beverly Hills hotel during his extended stays in Southern California. Described by Barbara McQueen as “Steve’s baby,” the pickup is estimated at $40,000 to $60,000.

More than 200 McQueen lots are to be offered. According to VP and Motoring Dept. director Mark Osborne, “The items represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire property from the quintessential American icon Steve McQueen.” The illustrated auction catalog is online for review and purchase at www.bonhams.com/us previews open at the Petersen Auto Museum on Thursday, November 9, continuing daily (10am-5pm) until the start of the Saturday auction at 11am.

Highlights include multiple lots of entertainment memorabilia such as the brown leather chaps worn by the actor in the film Tom Horn (est. $2/4,000) and his leather-bound presentation script from that 1980 Warner Bros. feature (est. $1,000/1,500). The 1960s-era foldable Persol sunglasses worn in the opening scenes to The Thomas Crown Affair (est. $2/3,000) feature blue-tinted lenses and are offered with a carrying pouch. Several movie posters are included in the sale, as well as prints, advertising signs and vintage biking ephemera.

A vintage Signal gasoline pump and a Coca Cola advertising standee should also attract bidder interest, the nearly-five-foot-tall standee depicts a policeman holding a sign that reads “Slow/School/Zone” while the reverse reads “Drink Coca Cola.” It was stored in a hangar in Santa Paula, CA where the McQueens lived in the late 1970s during the renovation of their nearby farmhouse (est. $1,000/1,500). A rare 1940 enamel Indian gasoline sign is estimated at $600 to $800.

Furniture and household decorations include a Wurlitzer Model 1015 jukebox with hand-written tiles for McQueen’s favorite songs by Bill Haley, Bing Cosby and Glenn Miller (est. $3/5,000). The sale includes several wood cabinets and gun racks, a Mills nickel slot machine designed with an eagle motif (est. $1,500/2,00), and a cash register the actor had custom-made for a never-realized plan to open a grocery store in Idaho – designed with a brass plaque reading: McQueens Grocery (est. $1,000/2,000). Lamps, mirrors and clocks will be offered and exames of the actor’s vintage scale collection include an early 1900s metal scale from the Toledo Scale Co. (est. $1,500/2,500).

Five saddles from McQueen’s collection are highlighted by a brown leather western saddle with German silver mounts by Jack Grigsby, signed by the maker on the seat and stirrup, offered with its metal and wood display stand (est. $2/4,000).

McQueen’s extensive toy collection is expected to entice collectors, many of the 1930s and ’40s cast-iron toys are considered rare and include Hubley Harley-Davidson motorcycles, an Arcade Andy Gump roadster, buses and dump trucks, Buddy L trucks, fire engines, and hook & ladders. Several wind-up toys come to auction – a tin Charlie McCarthy and a Milton Berle wind-up toy are offered together, estimated at $400 to $600. The same estimate is in place for a pair of tin Unique Art Mfg Co. toys including a Watch Jo Go and Rodeo Joe model.

The actor’s vintage Harley-Davidson sweater, mounted in a frame, is expected to bring $3,000 to $5,000 while his Belstaff motorcycle jacket could sell for as much as $4,000. McQueen’s Mastercard is estimated at $1,000 to $2,000 and several other cards include his Rolls-Royce owner ID card (est. $400/600).

Several hunting knifes from McQueen’s collection are to be offered, as is a brass and wood folding knife designed by and bearing an inscription “to Steve from Dutch” from its noted maker, the late Von Dutch (est. $7/12,000). As many as 20-lots of rifles, shotguns and revolvers include Winchester lever action and saddle ring carbines, slide action rifles and Parker Brothers double-barrel boxlock shotguns.

According to the auctioneers, the sale and preview is being seen as a reunion opportunity for many of McQueen’s entourage and friends. In 1999 McQueen was elected to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame and his dramatic bike scenes in the film The Great Escape remain some of his best known. Not merely a collector of bikes (having owned as many as 100 models), he was an avid racer and supporter of motorcycling sports events having raced as a member of the Vase A team in 1964’s International Six Days Trial in East Germany.


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