SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — No one can ever say Johnny Rosen lacks passion. The 70 year-old north Phoenix resident and former Israeli paratrooper has traveled the world, much like an adventurer, and has accumulated rare collectibles along the way.
Now Rosen’s 1961 pink Imperial Crown Coupe, a rare Tibetan Thangka that he bought in
Kathmandu and other collectibles will hit the auction block during the first day of J. Levine Auction & Appraisal��s high-end, three-day auction of multiple fine estates, set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 23, 24 & 25. Doors open at 9 a.m. each day with live bidding starting at 11 a.m. The auction house is located at 10345 N. Scottsdale Rd., in Scottsdale, on the southeast corner of Shea Boulevard and Scottsdale Road.
Born in Capetown, South Africa, Rosen became an Israeli citizen at age 14. He was a freelance reporter during the Vietnam War and volunteered to join the Israeli army one week before the Six-Day War began. In the 1980s, he owned a successful classic car shop in San Francisco before moving to Phoenix 22 years ago.
Often seeking adventure, he was one of two passengers aboard the ill-fated MSC Flaminia in July 2012. During the routine voyage from the U.S. to Europe, a massive explosion crippled the containership in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Of the 22 crew members, three were killed and several others were wounded. Russian and Filipino crewmembers from a nearby oil tanker saved Rosen and the other survivors who were floating in a lifeboat.
“It’s a great honor to bring Johnny’s collectibles to auction,” said Josh Levine, J. Levine owner and auctioneer. “He embodies the spirit of a true collector…someone who appreciates rarity, marvels at fine craftsmanship and is so driven to discover new treasures, he’ll take the path less traveled to find them.”
The romance of the classic American cars from the 1950s and 1960s fueled Rosen’s passion for collecting.
“At one point, I had 50 or 60 classic cars, and I named them all after chicks,” Rosen said. “Each one is an extraordinary work of art. You can’t help but fall in love with them.”
Known affectionately as “Prudence,” the pink, or “Malibu tan”, Imperial has been one of Rosen’s prized possessions for nearly 40 years. With 123,080 original miles, the classic beauty has been pampered to keep its black interior and other features in mint condition. The ordinary deck trunk lid has been replaced with the optional, much more desirable "flight sweep". The car also comes with the original deck lid as well. J. Levine estimates its value to be between $40,000 and $60,000.
Rosen is also selling a rare Tibetan Thangka painting that he bought in Kathmandu in 1970.
“I found it rolled up under a bed in an antique shop. The owner said he kept his best items under the bed, and I was astonished at the clarity of detail,” he said of the historic piece, which will be auctioned on Friday, June 24.
Thangkas tell the story of Buddha’s life and are often used as teaching tools. Rosen’s Thangka is one of 31 in a series and is believed to be more than 200 years old. J. Levine estimates it to be worth between $10,000 and $20,000.
Rosen is preparing to move across the country, and he admits that parting with “Prudence” is bittersweet.
“It’s been a labor of love caring for her, but it’s time for someone else to enjoy her flamboyant ways,” he said, adding that he still owns a dozen other classic cars, though his daily drive is a 1967 Chrysler Town & Country station wagon.
J. Levine’s June three-day auction features rare collectibles, furnishings and more on Thursday, June 23, fine and decorative art on Friday, June 24, and jewelry, silver and other collectibles on Saturday, June 25.
“Prudence” will go up for auction on Thursday, June 23 and Rosen’s Thangka will be auctioned on Friday, June 24.
For more details or to register to bid, visit www.jlevines.com or call (480) 496-2212.