Posted in November 2016
Marilyn Monroe Collection at Auction at Julien’s, November 2016
In December 2015, we went to the Chelsea Design Centre in London to attend the private view of the much-anticipated Marilyn Monroe auction held by Julien’s in Los Angeles on 19 and 20 November, 2016.
Included amongst the highlights were many of the famous items acquired by long-time Marilyn collector, David Gainsborough Roberts, whose collection W&H valued in 2012 in advance of a global tour which began in London at the Getty Images Gallery.
Of particular interest from the Gainsborough Roberts collection was the black beaded ‘shimmy’ dress from Some Like It Hot (1959), worn by Monroe when singing ‘I’m Through With Love’. Designed by Orry-Kelly, who won the 1959 Academy Award for costume design for the film, and which Gainsborough Roberts acquired at Christie’s New York in June 1992, for $38,500 / £20,263. It went on to sell at Julien’s for $460,000 / £577,200 – just over twelve times the original auction price. Other star pieces in the sale from the Gainsborough Roberts’ collection included the black sheath dress worn by Marilyn when accompanying Marlon Brando to the premiere of The Rose Tattoo in December, 1955, which sold for $125,000 / £102,500. Marilyn’s decorative jade green satin show-girl one-piece costume designed by William Travilla for Bus Stop (1956), which sold for $100,000 / £82,000. Also Travilla’s sensational peach crepe, pearl, rhinestone and bugle bead creation for Marilyn in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954) which realised £83,200 / £68,224. And the fabulous ‘wiggle’ dress designed by Dorothy Jeakins for Marilyn in Niagara (1953) – the film which established Monroe as a star, which sold for $89,600 / £73,472.
The star of the sale however, was the infamous gown worn by Monroe to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to President Kennedy at Madison Square Garden on 19 May, 1962. Designed by Jean Louis, Monroe had to be sewn into the figure-hugging sheath of flesh-coloured fabric, which was embellished with hundreds of Swarovski crystals, and which cost $12,000 at the time. It first appeared on the market in 1999 at the Christie’s auction of the Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe in New York, where it sold for $1,267,500, a world-record for a personal wardrobe item. After fierce bidding, it eventually sold for $4,810,000 / £3,944,000, maintaining its world-record status at three and a half times its previous price.
The auction also provided collectors with an opportunity to acquire smaller, more personal items, including Monroe’s Gucci monogrammed address book, annotated in her hand with various contact details, which sold for $44,800 / £36,736, and Monroe’s Blancpain platinum and diamond Art Deco cocktail wristwatch, which sold for $225,000 / £184,500. Also, Marilyn’s delightful evening minaudière/ miniature compact by ‘Pandora by Wadsworth’, the gold-tone metal cylindrical case embellished at either end with citrine crystal florets, contained a compact with loose powder, a well-used cotton buffer and mirror, a lipstick holder with tube of lipstick, a clear plastic comb and eight Philip Morris cigarettes, in a tasselled black velvet and white silk carrying case. It sold for $187,500/ £153,750 to Tommy Hilfiger as a gift for his wife, the handbag designer, Dee Ocleppo.
The three-day auction totalled nearly $11 million.
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