Marilyn Monroe's iconic gown fetches $6.85m

Monroe wore this dress in May 1962, when she famously sang Happy Birthday to then President Kennedy.
Monroe wore this dress in May 1962, when she famously sang Happy Birthday to then President Kennedy.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • The skin-tight dress Marilyn Monroe wore for her sultry rendition of Happy Birthday before then United States President John F. Kennedy at a 1962 gala was sold on Thursday for US$4.8 million (S$6.85 million) at an auction in Los Angeles.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not purchased the Jean Louis-designed dress covered in sequins, the Beverly Hills-based Julien's Auctions said in a statement.

With its colour matching her skin tone, the dress, which was so tight that Monroe had to be sewn into it, gave the impression she was nude.

"Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday Mr President is certainly one of the most famous impromptu performances in American history," said Mr Darren Julien, president and chief executive of Julien's Auctions.

Monroe, one of the 20th century's most famous sex symbols, wore the dress as she sang to Mr Kennedy in a breathy performance at a May 19, 1962 fundraiser for the Democratic Party in Madison Square Garden in New York.

The star of the films Some Like it Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes died of a drug overdose less than three months later. Monroe's song was to mark Mr Kennedy's 45th birthday, which was to occur 10 days later. The president was assassinated the following year.


Monroe wore this dress in May 1962, when she famously sang Happy Birthday to then President Kennedy. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The late fund manager Martin Zweig bought the dress in 1999 for US$1.26 million at a Christie's auction, according to Julien's Auctions. Mr Zweig, who saw the dress as an investment, kept it in a climate-controlled display case mounted on a mannequin, Mr Julien said.

The dress is one of many items from Monroe's life which Julien's Auctions is offering during a three-day auction. Monroe would have been 90 years old this year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2016, with the headline 'Marilyn Monroe's iconic gown fetches $6.85m'. Print Edition | Subscribe