Marilyn Monroe is about to become a bigger brand.

This story first appeared in the January 14, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Authentic Brands Group LLC, in conjunction with NECA, a global media and entertainment company, has acquired the intellectual property of Marilyn Monroe LLC. Anna Strasberg, wife of the late Lee Strasberg, will continue her involvement as a minority partner in the joint venture. According to industry sources, the purchase price was between $20 million and $30 million.

Monroe, a style icon who redefined sexy for generations of men and women, died in 1962.

“Marilyn Monroe is recognized around the world as the embodiment of beauty and glamour. Quite simply, her name and her image have timeless appeal. We feel fortunate to be responsible for the future long-term success of the Marilyn Monroe brand,” said Jamie Salter, chairman and chief executive officer of Authentic Brands. ABG currently manages the Bob Marley brand and owns the Tapout and Silver Star brands.

Over the past 20 years, 1,975 deals for Marilyn Monroe have been signed, ranging from intimate apparel to wine, and, in the past year alone, some 140 deals have been signed, said Salter, who negotiated with the Strasberg family for seven months. Today, there are about 54 live deals worldwide. Some of these are short-term deals and nonexclusives.

Going forward, there will be three ways in which Marilyn Monroe licensing will operate: One is to borrow the name and likeness for ad campaigns; the second is to use the Marilyn Monroe likeness, via computer-generated technology, in films, and the third is through traditional licensing. For starters, Monroe will appear as the face of a new Christian Dior beauty ad campaign worldwide this year, said Salter.

Among the top categories Salter is eager to license are apparel (high fashion and sportswear); jewelry; cosmetics; personal care; fragrances, and accessories (handbags, footwear and sunglasses). Salter is currently negotiating a health and beauty deal, which should be completed within 30 days. A major fashion deal that would incorporate sportswear and denim should be signed in about 60 days, he said. He expects new Monroe merchandise to start hitting the stores in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. Products will be aimed at the mass to midtier level, and the deals may be exclusive, said Salter.

“I think it can become a very large franchise worldwide. It has a global appeal. Marilyn Monroe means just as much in Japan and Korea as it does here — in some cases, it may mean more,” he said.