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Marilyn Monroe Happy Birthday Mr President Dress Sells For £3.9m - ArtLyst Article image

Marilyn Monroe Happy Birthday Mr President Dress Sells For £3.9m

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The sparkly dress worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang "Happy Birthday Mr. President" to John F Kennedy has been sold at auction for $4.8m (£3.9m).The figure-hugging Jean Louis gown, with 2,500 crystals, was bought by the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum chain, exceeding the $3m guide price. The sum raised is likely to set a new world record for the most expensive dress sold at auction. Marilyn Monroe's billowing white dress from the Seven Year Itch sold for $4.6 million (plus $1m in commission) in 2011.

It was 1962, the height of the Camelot. John F Kennedy was coming to the end of his first term as president and history was yet to reveal that he and MM were an item. Now the fabulously sexy dress that Monroe wore at her historic appearance at the Madison Square Garden charity dinner, where she performed the song ‘Happy Birthday’ to President John F. Kennedy who was turning 45. 

Pontus Silfverstolpe, one of the co-founders of the company says: “The sale of this dress and the rest of the Monroe collection was one of the auction events of 2016 partly because it comes in the wake of the American Presidential election with the whole world watching the change of power taking place in the US.”

The dress designed by Jean Louis was expected to sell for $2m to $3m, according to Barnebys. “This astronomical value is partly due to the fact that the performance of this song is now part of history – two of the most famous people in the world publicly acknowledging what was a very private love affair, and finally because the dress is covered with 2,500 crystals, and because it was one of Marilyn Monroe's last public appearances,” says Silfverstolpe.

Less than three months later, Marilyn Monroe was dead, and just a year later President Kennedy had been assassinated.  "Marilyn Monroe's performance of 'Happy Birthday Mr. President 'is definitely the most famous spontaneous behavior in America's history,” said Darren Julien, president of Julien's Auctions to Barnebys.   

The dress was part of Julien's three-day auction of Marilyn Monroe-related pieces this month.


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