A pair of Steve McQueen's personal Persol 714 folding sunglasses in their original case, which has never before been auctioned, will be part of GWS Auctions' Legends of Hollywood & Music sale in Beverly Hills on March 24. We picked the Persols out of a catalog of much glitzier celebrity-owned items because they're not only epically cool but potentially a major bargain.
The shades, which have a black frame and brown lenses, and (as far as we can tell) predate the blue-lensed 714's the King of Cool wore in 1968's The Thomas Crown Affair. Another pair of 714's owned by McQueen sold at auction in 2006 for over $70,000, though in our opinion they'd be worth more today.
Therefore GWS' pre-sale estimate of $2,500–$3,500 – bidding starts at just $500 – seems to indicate some savvy collector might take home the deal of the century. The 714's come from the estate of Dennis Roberts, best known as "Elvis’s Optician", who passed away in 2007. Roberts made and customized dozens of pairs of shades for McQueen as well, and the provenance is impeccable.
The 714's evolved from the iconic Persol 649s, also worn by McQueen, originally made in 1957 for Italian tram drivers who required large lenses to block dust and soot, and soon adopted by gentleman racers like the King of Cool.
Persol has reissued the 714s several times including special McQueen estate-approved limited editions. Next to one of the King's of Cool's Ferraris or Rolexes, a pair of his personally owned Persols is the next best thing. Gentlemen, start your paddles....