At home among fast and rare cars, McQueen's jacket is sure to resonate at Bonhams' premier motoring auction
The famous tweed Jacket worn by Steve McQueen throughout the 1968 blockbuster movie Bullitt will be offered by Bonhams at their Scottsdale, Arizona, auction on January 16th. Bonhams is the auction house most closely associated with Steve McQueen and the McQueen family and son Chad graciously chose Bonhams this week to bring the iconic piece to an international marketplace.
The celebrated drama-cum-action film Bullitt, in which McQueen portrays the cool as ice, hard as nails Lieutenant Frank Bullitt – a role that seemed to be modelled after the actor's own persona, has become such a part of popular culture that it's been added to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry. This designation is quite a statement of importance considering that there are less than 500 movies total in this exclusive club.
Most recognised for its exhilarating and brutally authentic car chase, Bullitt became an instant favourite not just of car aficionados but also of movie-goers worldwide and is still regarded as the most influential car chase in cinematic history.
As an accomplished driver, McQueen actually drove the 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 in many scenes, alternating with best friend and stuntman Bud Ekins. Although director Peter Yates requested maximum speeds of 75-80 mph, many times the cars exceeded 110 mph. In several of these close-up shots McQueen can be seen wearing the tweed jacket as he throws the Fastback around the streets of San Francisco.
The wool tweed herringbone three-button jacket with suede elbow patches was tailor-made for McQueen by costume designer Theodora van Runkle (whose credits include Bonnie and Clyde and The Godfather II). Considering Bullitt was made by McQueen's production company Solar Productions, it's highly likely that McQueen took part in the selection of his wardrobe thereby making Frank Bullitt's outfits an extension of his own personal style.
This understated albeit handsome garment is not just what is likely the most famous tweed jacket in movie history, it's now integral to a body of art considered by the American government to be "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant." Best of all though, it belonged to the King of Cool himself.
"We are thrilled that Chad McQueen has entrusted Bonhams with such an iconic piece – perhaps the most significant piece – of McQueen memorabilia," says Bonhams US Head of Motoring Mark Osborne. "As with other highly important items from the great man's movie and personal life we expect strong international bidding, both private and institutional. From many aspects of McQueen collecting, such as motorcars, movie memorabilia and personal wardrobe, this piece, the Bullitt Jacket, encapsulates them all."
To accompany the jacket, Bonhams is delighted to offer two special Bullitt cars from Chad McQueen's personal collection: a 1968 Ford Mustang Bullitt by Gateway Classics and the very first production model 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt serial number 0001.
It's worthwhile to note that Steve's generous legacy of philanthropy for the Boys Republic of Chino Hills, California, continues today through son Chad. Currently on a building renovation fund-raising campaign, the Boys Republic will benefit from a portion of the sale proceeds.
These genuine McQueen collectibles will be part of the much talked about Bonhams Scottsdale Auction on January 16th. This highly anticipated sale, known for the exquisite and rare cars on offer, will take place at the AAA Four Diamond-rated Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in the heart of lovely Scottsdale, Arizona, a pleasant 20-minute drive from Phoenix.
For McQueen's New York fan base, the tweed Bullitt jacket will be on display in Bonhams' Madison Avenue showroom for public viewing during the holiday season.
To register to bid in this auction, in person or remotely, or to purchase a catalogue, please visit bonhams.com/scottsdale.
Image credit: ©Barry Feinstein Photography Inc.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com