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Tuesday 25 October 2016

WATCH: Marilyn Monroe's 'Happy Birthday' gown going to auction

Published 07/09/2016 | 13:31

The dress Marilyn Monroe wore during her rendition of
The dress Marilyn Monroe wore during her rendition of "Happy Birthday" to President John F Kennedy. (Julien's Auctions/AP)

The skin-tight beaded gown Marilyn Monroe wore during her rendition of "Happy Birthday" to President John F Kennedy is going on the auction block this autumn.

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Julien's Auctions is offering the sequined stunner at a sale in Los Angeles on November 17.

The auction house believes the gown could fetch two million to three million US dollars (£1.5 million-£2.2 million)

The actress wore the dress at Kennedy's 45th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden on May 19 1962. Made of silk gauze and covered in thousands of rhinestone beads and sequins, the Jean Louis dress was so form-fitting that Monroe had to be sewn into it.

She died less than three months later of an overdose of sleeping pills at age 36. Kennedy died the following year.

The custom-made, one-of-a-kind dress is "not only Hollywood, but political and historical", said Julien's president Darren Julien.

The dress was first purchased 17 years ago at Christie's auction by the late financier Martin Zweig, who kept it in a climate-controlled display case at his Pierre Hotel penthouse in New York. It is being sold by his estate.

"She called it skin and beads," said Mr Julien of the gown. And because the dress "was sewn on Marilyn Monroe, Zweig had it professionally mounted on a mannequin. It's never been off it, and is immaculately preserved."

The dress was last sold at auction in 1999 for 1.26 million US dollars (£942,860), the highest auction price for a Monroe dress to date.

The dress is among some 1,300 Monroe artefacts being offered by Julien's over three days. They include items from the estate of Monroe's acting coach Lee Strasberg and from David Gainsborough-Roberts, a British collector believed to have the largest private collection of Monroe costumes.

A sheer black beaded and sequined dress from the movie Some Like It Hot also is for sale.

Prior to the sale, the custom-made "Happy Birthday Mr President" dress will be showcased at MANA Contemporary in Jersey City, New Jersey, as part of an exhibition focusing on Monroe as an artist, from September 25 through October 22. It will include some of her watercolours and handwritten poems, which will be sold by Julien's.

The dress also will travel outside of the United States for the first time for an exhibition at the Museum of Style Icons in Newbridge, Ireland, from October 29 through November 6.

"This is the last auction of its kind. When she died Marilyn Monroe left everything to Lee Strasberg," said Mr Julien.

"We have the final of his estate items as they relate to Marilyn Monroe. It's literally going to be the last opportunity to ever experience a Marilyn Monroe auction like this again."


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