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marilynSome like it Marilyn

Long after her death, the legacy of Marilyn Monroe is stronger than ever. I am left wondering what she would think of the record prices her memorabilia has been getting especially when one considers she passed away with less than $2000 to her name. The fascination for all that is Marilyn has never waned and indeed with the latest movie “My week with Marilyn” creating a huge hype around her once again, one is left wondering what other stories are still out there begging to be told. 

Marilyn Monroe’s iconic white “Seven Year Itch “ dress sold for more than $5.6 million and another $2.7 million for three other Monroe movie outfits. Some of her dresses were from the collection of 79 year old entertainer Debbie Reynolds, who was going to open a museum with her collection of roughly 3500 costumes from different movies that the movie studios at the time were throwing out. Due to maintenance costs she decided to sell the collection off. After 20 minutes of bidding on the ‘subway’ dress Debbie Reynolds was in tears when the gavel hit the podium ending the auction - this after an expected price of $2 Million. The redsequined showgirl gown and a feathered hat Monroe wore in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” sold for $1.47 million. The expected price was $300,000. Monroe’s costumes from “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “River of No Return” brought another $1.2 million.

A Marilyn Monroe collection would not be complete without the ubiquitous Playboy issue of 1953 with Marilyn on the cover. Spotting an original 1953 Playboy copy is becoming difficult as a reprint is confusing collectors. They are advised to note that the original first edition had two staples and the reprint three and the first had a square on the top corner whilst the reprint has a rectangle. Says one MM expert, “if you have bought a reprint, don’t despair as they will in time also become highly collectable as the reprint was only 2 000 issues.”

The sheer white dress Marilyn wore in May 1962 when she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy set a record price of $1.26 million when it went on auction in 1999. In storage since 1962, the “Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe” auction held by Christie’s totalled well over $13 million and included clothing, scripts, awards, furniture, kitchenware, and glassware Marilyn had owned. In 2005 the remaining items that were not sold in 1999 were auctioned. Today, collectors will do anything to lay their hands on Marilyn Monroe items – whether it be items

she may have used or worn herself to photos, prints, postcards, calendars or magazines featuring her. Memorabilia of her is still being produced today – from dolls, plates and even wine named Norma Jean. Andy Warhol’s iconic image of Marilyn has been reproduced in all forms – including the Block China Andy Warhol dinnerware which has been discontinued and becoming collectable. Kim Goodwin Marilyn dolls are also highly collectable and hard to find – one of the most popular being the one of Marilyn standing outside her Brentwood home wearing her favorite Pucci dress with her dog Maf lying beside her.

Her allure as the ‘sex kitten’ of the time coupled with the tragedy of her lonely life and death endears Marilyn to us all. She may not have been the most talented of actresses but she captivated everyone with her breathless beauty – from baseball stars to presidents. Her risqué pictures set hearts aflutter – from her early nude shots to the billowing skirt and the last photographs of her emerging from the water naked were used in the June 1962 cover shot for Life Magazine – stills from her movie “Something’s Got to Give” with Dean Martin which was never released as Marilyn died two months after filming it. Today, tributes to Marilyn can be seen all over Hollywood. A 26-foot statue of Marilyn by Seward Johnson weighing 40 000 pounds showing the Marilyn with the billowing skirt from the iconic ”The Seven Year Itch’ was unveiled in Chicago in 2011. The massive statue was recently dismantled and moved to Palm Springs in California where Marilyn was discovered.


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