“Some Like it Hot” Actress Marilyn Monroe’s Dresses, Etc. to be Sold at Auction

Marilyn Monroe

During a party at the home of movie executive Arthur Krim, American actress Marilyn Monroe stands between Robert Kennedy (left) and John F. Kennedy, New York, New York, May 19, 1962. The party followed a democratic fundraiser at Madison Square Garden honoring John F. Kennedy’s birthday where Monroe famously sang “Happy Birthday.’ (Photo by Cecil Stoughton/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Approximately 1,200 items once owned by “Some Like it Hot” actress Marilyn Monroe will be auctioned next month. Nearly 800 items will be provided by the estate of famed acting coach and father figure Lee Strasberg, and some will yield from the collection of David Gainsborough-Roberts, a collector of Monroe’s costume. Among the items sold will be a tube of her incredible lipstick and her incomparable “Happy Birthday” dress, famously worn to celebrate JFK.

Julien’s Auctions will host the sale of numerous high-valued items this November, including the infamously tight, nude-colored ‘Happy Birthday’ gown once owned by one of the world’s most enduring sex symbols, Marilyn Monroe.  The aforementioned dress, designed by Jean-Louis, originally garnered fame on May 19, 1962, as worn to President John F. Kennedy’s birthday party. Originally priced at $12,000 in 1962. In 1999, the dress was sold for over $1.26 million.

Twenty years later, the auction house expects that the dress, which featured 2,500 and said to be so tight that Monroe had to be sewn into, will auction for somewhere between $2 and $3 million –approximately 200 times more expensive than the dress’ original cost. The stunning floor-length dress has made an everlasting impression upon the minds of Americans everywhere, particularly as the birthday celebrations was one of Monroe’s final public appearances prior to her death just three days later.

In addition the sale of the incredible shimmering dress, which was worn to President Kennedy at his 45th birthday celebration, other items will be placed on the auction block. No less than 1,200 items will be auctioned at the time the dress was sold, including Monroe’s purses, handwritten letters, shoes, makeup, and jewelry. Interested parties will be able to gain insight into the life of the troubled sex symbol who died at a tragically young age.

Several items from her life will be available for purchase, including with her images and recollections, including a journal entry stating, “Last night I was awake all night again. Sometimes I wonder what the night time is for. It almost doesn’t exist for me — it all seems like one long, long horrible day.” She goes on to describe her recent time in a mental institution, which she likens to a being sent to a prison “for a crime I hadn’t committed.Oh, well, men are climbing to the moon but they don’t seem interested in the beating human heart.”

Strasberg’s son, mother and father found many of the items when cleaning out suitcases, closets, and trunks several years ago. The tube of “non-smear’ ‘Bachelor’s Carnation’ Revlon lipstick, her negligee from “Niagara,” the green and black leotard, the shoes she wore when she was wed to playwright Arthur Miller, and the earrings worn to the premiere of “The Seven Year Itch” are listed to be sold, in addition to other personal notes, watercolours, and crayon drawings. Some of the items have never been seen before by the public, including a letter from the Kennedy family discussing her relationship with Robert Kennedy and a  first-edition hand-bound 1957 volume of her third husband Miller’s play that was dedicated to her. Also, receipts for champagne, a dated film contract, shorthand notes, and her final checkbook. Apparently, the woman once known as Norma Jean, was a hoarder.

Julien’s Auction will auction the “barely there” dress and the other items at an auction taking place in Los Angeles on Nov. 17, 2016. The proceeds from Strasberg’s estate will go to his widow, Anna.

Monroe, one of Hollywood’s most bankable celebrities, would have turned 90 this year. After spending most of her younger years in orphanages, she went on to flourish, using her mass sex appeal and image. Privately, she struggled with depression and addiction before overdosing on barbiturates.


Ian Whittock is the Managing Director of Evoque Claims and Appraisals, Evoque Auctions and Identidot Coding Services.