That makes it a valuable collectible to some of the quarter million registered customers who could bid on it during online auctions scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
The shirt is one of more than 1,800 items up for sale in the latest pop culture offering from Heritage Auction Galleries. The Dallas-based auction house specializes in the trivial — from Fred Astaire's top hat to Dean's undershirt.
Dean is the star attraction at this auction. An Indiana museum featuring all things Dean closed earlier this year, and Heritage secured the rights to unload the memorabilia.
Heritage's director of music and entertainment memorabilia said the Dean mystique should help the upcoming auction match or exceed its last sale, which totaled nearly $1.6 million. "This auction, I think, trumps all the other ones," Doug Norwine said.
The Dean trophies range from the mundane to the macabre. The brown suit he wore in "East of Eden" reveals how slight the actor was — just 5 feet and 8 inches. It could fetch $18,000. On the morbid side is a belt buckle-sized piece of the silver Porsche Spyder Dean was driving when he collided with a station wagon near rural Cholame, Calif., on Sept. 30, 1955. He died instantly at age 24.
The estimated worth of the car fragment is $5,000.
Norwine said some items are inappropriate to sell, such as pieces from the plane crash that killed baseball player Roberto Clemente.
"You do draw the line," Norwine said. "The big joke is I don't think I could sell Elvis' toe tag. I wouldn't want the plane that Buddy Holly died in."
In April, Heritage auctioned off the watch Holly was wearing when he died on Feb. 3, 1959, for more than $155,000.
Some items have historical value, such as a reel-to-reel recording of a teenage Bob Dylan singing four original songs with a high school buddy. It's believed to be the earliest recording of Dylan singing and could fetch a six-figure sale price.