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Palm Beach Modern Auctions to offer James Dean's "Rebel Without A Cause" jacket
Red jacket screen-worn by James Dean in the 1955 film classic Rebel Without A Cause (Palm Beach Modern Auctions image); Right: black & white photo issued by Warner Bros. to publicize the film (public domain image). Auction estimate: $400,000-$600,000. Image courtesy of Palm Beach Modern Auctions.

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.- “If ever there were a reason to book a flight to south Florida, this is it,” said auctioneer Rico Baca, referencing the March 3rd auction being hosted by the company he co-owns, Palm Beach Modern Auctions. The 565-lot auction features the finest selection of modern and contemporary art, furniture, decorative accessories and jewelry PBMA has ever offered. The sale also launches the firm’s new Urban Culture division with a sensational selection led by a now-iconic red jacket James Dean wore in the 1955 film Rebel Without A Cause.

The fun begins with a Palm Beach private collection of Pablo Picasso ceramics. The coveted, quirky wares were designed by Picasso during the postwar years at the Madoura pottery studio in Vallauris, France. “There are far more collectors of this pottery than there are sellers,” Baca noted. Eleven pieces have been consigned, including a Cruchon Hibou pitcher, est. $9,000-$12,000; a Figure De Prou handled vessel, $10,000-$15,000; and a large Pichet Aux Arums, or pitcher with a lily motif, $10,000-$15,000.

Jean Royere mid-century furniture is the ultimate in sophistication. A Val D’or coffee table with provenance dating back to 1950 (Le Roi Fou, Paris) is expected to reach $12,000-$18,000; while a pair of Grand Oeuf (Egg) lounge chairs of Royere German fur and oak, boasts both private and gallery provenance. Estimate: $60,000-$80,000

Prices continue to soar for American studio furniture and sculptures, especially the creations of mid-century design lions like Harry Bertoia, Paul Evans and George Nakashima. A superb lineup awaits bidders on March 3rd, with highlights including an exceptional Nakashima Minguren II English oak burl and black walnut coffee/occasional table estimated at $30,000-$40,000. It is accompanied by a LOA from the artist’s daughter and fellow furniture designer Mira Nakashima, dated 3/8/2016. A rare – if not unique – Bertoia stainless steel floor sculpture stands 71¾ inches high, with a willowy attitude that suggests motion in the wind. One of four Bertoia sculptures to be auctioned, its estimate is $30,000-$50,000.

Many other 20th-century design greats are represented in the furniture section, including Vladimir Kagan, Philip & Kelvin Laverne, Karl Springer, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Gio Ponti, Ico Parisi and Paul Evans (American, 1931-1987), whose distinctive sculptural-metal furniture is as fresh today as it was 50 years ago. Eight lots of Evans designs are included in the sale, with a rare coffee table of verdigris-patinated copper and glass estimated at $18,000-$24,000

Lots 153-173 contain fine jewelry of the highest quality, from such blue-chip names as Rolex, Piaget, David Webb and Cartier. There are three lots of 18K gold and diamond designs by Van Cleef & Arpels: a necklace, a stunning pair of earrings and a Fleurette 5-flower bracelet incorporating 70 diamonds. With its original box, the luxe bracelet is offered with a $25,000-$30,000 estimate.

Sculptures introduce the fine art section, with several outstanding highlights taking the lead. A Lynn Chadwick (British, 1914-2003) bronze titled Sitting Couple II is No. 2 from and edition of 6. It is accompanied by a photo COA from Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., London, and the original 1973 receipt from Marlborough Gallery. Estimate: $40,000-$60,000. An original painted-wood sculpture by Louise Nevelson (Russian/American, 1899-1988) titled Diminishing Reflection is dated 1964/5 and has provenance from Pace Gallery, NYC; and a Boca Raton, Fla., private collection. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Other important sculptures by Ossip Zadkine, Alexander Liberman and Robert Longo form a strong base for the art section, which continues with a sensational array of paintings, drawings, lithographs and editions.

Original paintings and drawings include four by Clement Rosenthal, three by Jean Dufy, a Jean Cocteau, and others by Jules Olitski, Alvin Demar Loving Jr., Cleve Gray, Henri Maik, Hunt Slonem and Marino Marini. The who’s who continues with lithographs and editions by Dubuffet, Picasso, Miro, Le Corbusier, Motherwell, Appel and more.

When Lot 203 is introduced, it will be time to hang loose, as PBMA debuts its new Urban Culture division featuring pop culture, celebrity and entertainment items. It will begin with five lots of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis signed notes and books given to Bill Hamilton, the fashion designer behind many of Mrs. Onassis’ favorite ensembles. Next up will be a large collection of photographs of such legendary performers as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the Beatles, as well as Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy.

An archive of property personally owned by actress Farrah Fawcett (American, 1947-2009) is apportioned into 10 lots and includes her passport, a Bottega Veneta monogrammed portfolio bag, letterhead stationery, a lipstick holder, monogrammed luggage tag, and most unusual of all, the cast she wore on her arm after injuring her wrist in the early 1980s. “What makes the cast absolutely unique is the signatures on it,” said Baca. “Both Andy Warhol and Keith Haring signed the cast at a party all three had attended. Haring added a cartoon, and Warhol doodled a dollar bill by his name.” The cast and supportive documentation are estimated at $10,000-$15,000.

There are several important original paintings by respected graffiti artists Crash (John Matos) and Mr. Brainwash (Thierry Guetta). A large mixed-media painting by the latter artist, titled Mickey and Minnie, measures 42 inches square (sight) and is estimated at $40,000-$60,000.

The selection also includes pop art skateboard decks, concert and art posters, extremely rare 1980s London rock concert and radio station shirts, Mick Jones’ (Foreigner) personal VIP Looney Tunes varsity jacket, and a group lot containing three items related to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It includes a “War Is Over If You Want It” t-shirt personally gifted to the consignor by Lennon and Ono, together with two books: Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit, and John Lennon’s In His Own Write. Lot estimate: $2,000-$2,500

The jewel in PBMA’s Urban Culture crown is Lot 333, a red jacket memorably worn by James Dean in the 1955 film classic Rebel Without A Cause.

“We are so thrilled and excited that we’ve been given the honor of auctioning James Dean’s ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ jacket,” said Baca. “It has never, ever been offered for sale before, at auction or otherwise. It’s a highly important piece of Hollywood memorabilia and is supported by an archive of written provenance that shows a trail of ownership going all the way back to the wardrobe supervisor at Warner Brothers.”

Baca continued, “There are certain items that immediately come to mind when we think of the great stars of the past – Marilyn Monroe’s white ‘subway’ dress from ‘The Seven Year Itch,’ the black leather outfit Elvis Presley wore for his comeback special on TV, and for James Dean, it’s unquestionably the red windbreaker he wore as Jim Stark in ‘Rebel Without A Cause.’ These are items we expect to see in The Smithsonian.” The jacket comes to auction with a $400,000-$600,000 estimate.

The Saturday, March 3, 2018 auction will begin at 12 noon Eastern Time. PBMA is located at 417 Bunker Rd., West Palm Beach, FL 33405. Preview: 10-5 Monday, Feb. 26 through Friday, March 2, or on auction day from 9 a.m. till noon. For additional information call 561-586-5500 or email

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February 28, 2018

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