The dress Marilyn Monroe wore to sing Happy Birthday Mr President to JFK in 1962 has smashed expectations at auction.
It sold for $4.8 million at Julien’s Auctions sale last night (including buyer’s premium) – far above its $3 million estimate. It just falls short of the film memorabilia record of $5.6 million, set by the dress Monroe wore in the "subway" scene of The Seven Year Itch.
Monroe sported the gown to deliver sultry birthday greetings to the president at the Democratic Party fundraiser at New York’s Madison Square Garden.The Jean Louis number features 2,500 crystals and was so tight Monroe had to be sewn into it.
The price is a 8.5% per annum increase on the dress’ last auction in 1999, when it sold for $1.2m to late businessman Martin Zweig.
That’s clear evidence of the growing demand for the finest pieces of movie memorabilia.
Julien’s president, Darren Julien, explained the dress’ appeal.
"Marilyn Monroe singing ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ is certainly one of the most famous impromptu performances in American history.
"That rendition has lived on for decades as one of the most remarkable events in her career and certainly one of the most storied tales in popular culture history — a moment in time squarely at the center of the 1960s, Hollywood and Camelot…
"This dress, this story, this momentous occasion represents a defining moment in history."
The ongoing question of "did they or didn’t they" in relation to Monroe and JFK also accounts for some of the special interest in this piece.
The new owner of the dress is Ripley’s Believe It or Not, which runs a number of museums throughout the world.
A dress Monroe wore in Some Like it Hot hammered for $450,000 in the dedicated Monroe auction, in which even the star’s hairbrush made $8,125.