Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe ‘Happy Birth­day’ dress fetches $4.8m

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL - ---- BBC

The dress worn by Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe as she sang “Happy Birth­day Mr Pres­i­dent” to John F Kennedy has been sold at auc­tion for $4.8m (£3.9m). The fig­ure-hug­ging Jean Louis gown, with 2,500 crys­tals, was bought by the Ri­p­ley’s Be­lieve It or Not mu­seum chain, ex­ceed­ing the $3m guide price.

The com­pany’s vice pres­i­dent said it was “most iconic piece of pop cul­ture that there is”.

Mon­roe died from a drug over­dose just three months af­ter the per­for­mance.

The sul­try ren­di­tion for Pres­i­dent Kennedy’s 45th birth­day at a 1962 Demo­cratic fundraiser at New York’s Madi­son Square was one of her last pub­lic ap­pear­ances. Pres­i­dent Kennedy was shot dead a year later. The dress, which the auc­tion house said was so tight she had to be sewn into it, had pre­vi­ously been bought at auc­tion for $1.3m in 1999 by the late busi­ness mogul and col­lec­tor Martin Zweig.

The sum raised is likely to set a new world record for the most ex­pen­sive dress sold at auc­tion. Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe’s bil­low­ing white dress from the Seven Year Itch sold for $4.6 mil­lion (plus $1m in com­mis­sion) in 2011.

The largest col­lec­tion of the screen star’s pos­ses­sions ever of­fered for auc­tion is be­ing sold by Julien’s auc­tion house in Bev­erly Hills over three days.

Also sold on Thurs­day was the cock­tail dress she wore in “Some Like it Hot”, which fetched $450,000.

Many of the 1,000 lots come from the es­tate of her act­ing coach, Lee Stras­berg, who be­came a close friend of the ac­tress.

She be­queathed her per­sonal ef­fects and cloth­ing to him in her will.

The dress was so tight she had to be sewn into it and adorned with 2,500 hand-stitched crys­tals, the auc­tion house said.

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