Monday 21 January 2019

Marilyn's 'happy birthday' dress sells for world record €4.5m

The famous dress Picture: AFP/Getty
The famous dress Picture: AFP/Getty

The famous dress worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang "Happy birthday Mr President" to John F Kennedy has sold for a world-record price at auction, fetching $4.8m (€4.52m).

The sheer, flesh-coloured design, which features more than 2,500 hand-stitched crystals, had a pre-sale estimate of $3m (€2.8m) before it went under the hammer at Julien's Auctions in Los Angeles.

It was bought by museum chain Ripley's Believe It Or Not, surpassing the previous most-expensive dress sold at auction, Monroe's white costume from The Seven Year Itch, which went for $4.6m (€4.3m) in 2011.

"We believe this is the most iconic piece of pop culture that there is," said Edward Meyer, vice president of Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

"In the 20th century I cannot think of one single item that tells the story of the 1960s as well as this dress. It's a new world record for a dress."

Mr Meyer said it was likely the dress would go on display at Ripley's Believe It Or Not in Hollywood before touring to different branches around the world.


The ­custom- made Jean ­Louis gown was so tight-fitting that Monroe was said to have been sewn into it before she performed for President Kennedy on May 19, 1962, ahead of his 45th birthday.

The Hollywood star was found dead less than three months later, aged 36.

Under a bright ­spotlight, Monroe walked on stage and peeled away her white ermine fur coat to reveal her dress in one of her last public appearances ­before her death from a drugs overdose.

The performance sparked rumours of an affair between Monroe and the ­president, who was ­assassinated on November 22, 1963.

"This dress, this story, this momentous occasion ­represents a truly defining moment in history," said Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions.

"This auction will remind the world why Marilyn Monroe remains an icon."

Hundreds of items were put up for auction, ­including the cocktail dress Monroe wore in Some Like It Hot, which sold for $375,000 (€354,000).

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