If you like motorcycle art, you might want to pay attention to the Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction on January 25. Several of Von Dutch’s drawings are coming up for sale, and they’re expected to go for relatively reasonable prices.
Today, Von Dutch is best-known as a brand name that boomed during the mid-2000s chopper craze; the Von Dutch name was plastered across lowbrow fashion clothing (trucker hats, tank tops, etc.), and died as quickly as the rest of the chopper fad.
It’s sad, because the real Von Dutch (real name Kenny Howard, born 1929, died 1992) was one of the most interesting characters of the Kustom Kulture scene that defined custom motorcycling in the 1960s and 1970s. He initially rose to fame for his pinstriping skills, but Von Dutch was far more than just a painter; he built wildly imaginative custom vehicles, including motorcycles.
He didn’t just chop up bikes, either; he was also a very capable restorer, and was known for his ability to rebuild machines from the earliest days of motorcycling. He hung around the fringes of the film and TV industry, hobnobbing with guys like Steve McQueen. In short, he was probably one of the most interesting gearheads of the mid-20th century, although eccentric and by some reports, a very unpleasant person to be around (read more about him here, here and here).
Now, the Bonhams auction house is selling off several pieces of Von Dutch’s art. Most of these are sketches of engine designs, and but there a couple non-moto-related pieces as well. Pricing is expected to be under $1,000 CAD for most of this stuff, which might sound like a lot, but it’s not as if Von Dutch is cranking out this stuff anymore. Will it go up in price in the future? Hard to say, but vintage cars and motorcycles certainly haven’t been a bad investment over the years, and given the constant interest in Von Dutch’s work, it’d be surprising if you couldn’t unload this art if you decided to do so in the future.
You can find the entire collection for sale at the Bonhams website. Click the “Next Lot” button on the right-hand side of the page to cycle through the various drawings.