The “King of Cool” vintage items offered by Bonhams & Butterfields

Bonhams & Butterfields’ annual vintage motorbike, custom car and sports-racing collectibles auction is now referred to as the “Classic California” sale. This time it features early Steve McQueen memorabilia from the collection of his first wife. The eagerly anticipated auction takes place in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008.

Steve McQueen fans and motorbike and car collectors find  Bonhams & Butterfields’ fall sale a must-attend event. It is the fourth auction to feature select McQueen-owned and raced motorbikes, cars and collectibles. Each multi-million dollar sale has set world auction records and generated international interest.

For 2008, bidders will vie for Steve McQueen’s first racing trophy and other early racing awards. The poster noting McQueen being honored by the Porsche Club of America could bring as much as $2,000, and several firearms used by the inveterate hunter should attract interest. Original signed contracts and documents for Bullitt (1968), Papillion (1973) and other early McQueen movies and productions will be offered along with signed letters and notes written to the McQueens by Barbra Streisand, Sammy Davis Jr., racing legend Sir Stirling Moss, Lyndon B. Johnson, Paul Newman, Janet Leigh, Debbie Reynolds and Rock Hudson.

McQueen’s Buddha figure gold cufflinks were a gift from Bob Hope (estimate $1,000-$2,000), and never-before seen photographs depict the McQueens at home and on location. McQueen’s Chinese visa displays his passport-sized photo and signature; it was carried by McQueen while he filmed The Sand Pebbles in 1965 (estimate $2,000-$4,000). Additional lots include personal and household items, some of which were featured in select McQueen films.

These desirable Steve McQueen items stem from the collection of Neile McQueen Toffel (known on stage as Neile Adams), McQueen’s first wife. Adams, a Broadway performer, met McQueen in 1956. McQueen was acting on Broadway too and the couple quickly fell in love and wed on Nov. 2, 1956.The McQueens were one of the royal couples of Hollywood until their divorce in 1972.

Other auction highlights on the block for the Classic California sale include vintage advertising signage on tin, and modern marketing devices designed with neon lighting. Original artworks depicting famous races and marques will attract collectors, and custom cars and vintage motorbikes will be the focus of bidding throughout the auction.

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The Saturday afternoon auction is the traditional kick-off for the Love Ride, the world’s largest one-day motorcycle charity fundraiser, celebrating its 25th year on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008 – part of California Bike Week.