1946 John Datu Arensma "Red River" Belt Buckle
Well, my grandfather was Alexander Golitzen, who was art director for Universal Studios and one of his good friends and colleagues was John Datu Arensma. And when I was a little boy, he gave me this belt buckle. Had no idea what it was, and I was on vacation in Catalina. And I saw this big cutout of John Wayne, and on his belt was that buckle. And I said, "That's the one that John gave me." So I did a little research, and I know that John was the art director on "Red River," and that Howard Hawks was the director, and he made these belt buckles out for the principal cast and crew. And each one was personalized with their initials, and that's "J.D.," for John Datu Arensma.
So you're a lucky kid that he just... you took a shine to it, and he gave it to you.
Oh, he just gave it to me out of the blue.
That's pretty spectacular, because these, obviously, have kind of taken on a life of their own in the collecting world, because it became so famous with John Wayne wearing it in all of the subsequent films, and it's an incredibly famous story. It's based on Thomas Dunson-- his character in "Red River," his brand from the ranch. So that's what the design is here. Famously, John Wayne's went missing after his death. So it's still at large, no one's found it. But he did also wear one every day that was a smaller version, that was his everyday buckle version of this. And that one was still around at the time he passed. The values are kind of all over the place. If this were John Wayne's personal buckle, obviously, we'd be talking about a completely different value. But even the fact that it's from the production, and we know who it's from, and we know how you got it, and the provenance is solid, it still is a really desirable piece in the collecting world. So to have one that's tied with the production, I would say at least in the $3,000 to $5,000 range at auction.
As an estimate.
(laughs) Wow. That's fantastic.
The John Wayne belt buckle, the one that did still exist at the time that he died, it's a smaller, it's shorter. It's about that high, because it was less uncomfortable, I think, for him to wear every day. That sold in his estate auction, and that sold for just over $19,000. But if we had the one that he wore in all the films, the one that went missing, we'd probably be talking six figures.
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