Going, going, gone!
In 1962 at Madison Square Garden, Marilyn Monroe serenaded Mr. President, John F. Kennedy, with a sensual, now infamous, rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song. The bedazzled, crystal encrusted — and not at all opaque — gown she donned for the evening made its auction debut this weekend. Its estimated purchase of $2.5 million was met and then some, selling for a record-breaking $4.8 million to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum chain.
The auction took place in Los Angeles and was hosted by Julien’s Auctions, known as the auction house of the stars. Martin Nolan, the executive director at Julien’s, said the dress was custom-made by designer Jean Louis and sketched by one of his mentees, Bob Mackie. The house calls Mackie “the king of bling.” No wonder, seeing that the dress features more than 2,500 hand-stitched crystals. Monroe was sewn into this scandalously skin-tight, strapless gown moments before she took to the stage (better yet to show off and enhance her famous curves).
The moment was one of the last public appearances by Monroe, as she died that August. The dress took on a complete tour, making appearances at several museums before it made its way to the podium on Nov. 18.
Monroe fever has been high as of late. In September, Whoopi Goldberg curated the Marilyn Monroe exhibition, “Marilyn: Character Not Image,” at the Mana Contemporary, which housed this historic dress along with other Monroe memorabilia.
As Goldberg said at the exhibition, “They sewed her into that dress…literally. That’s why she was late onto the stage because they were still sewing her into this dress because it had to look a certain way. So you look at the dress and then you look at the pool and you look at her with the goats and you think, ‘Wow.’ It makes me want to say to people, ‘Just be careful how we treat each other. That’s all.’”