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Some like this lot: Theatre saved as Marilyn handkerchief sells for €300,000 at auction


Icon: Marilyn Monroe

Icon: Marilyn Monroe

Icon: Marilyn Monroe

It is a happy ending not to be sneezed at. A handkerchief belonging to Marilyn Monroe has single-handedly saved a historic Paris theatre from bankruptcy after its owner sold it at auction for €300,000.

For decades, the silk handkerchief, with floral embroidery and a border of ivory lace, had pride of place in the baroque hall of the Comedie Italienne, France's only theatre dedicated to the Italian commedia dell'arte.

Its owner, Attilio Maggiulli, kept the handkerchief as a lucky charm and it even inspired a play called 'Le Mouchoir de Marilyn' (Marilyn's Handkerchief), in which the star has a love child with John F Kennedy.

Mr Maggiulli told 'Le Parisien' that the handkerchief had been found by a concierge at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, in a room in which Monroe had been staying in 1960. He offered it to the artist Andy Warhol, who in turn passed it on to Leo Castelli, a gallery owner.

In 1983, Mr Castelli gave the handkerchief to Mr Maggiulli as a keepsake at a time when he was renting him a small theatre space in Soho, New York.

Almost 40 years later, Mr Maggiulli said the gift had proved a godsend for the theatre, which was facing financial ruin in February shortly before the coronavirus outbreak struck.

The handkerchief was sold to an unnamed bidder described as "someone who adores the theatre and admires Marilyn", according to Claudine Durand-Simone, Mr Maggiulli's associate.

"We were able to reimburse colossal debts and the mortgage is paid," Ms Durand-Simone said. "It was a happy surprise."

After 46 years in the hands of its Italian boss, the theatre remains up for sale, though here too the tale may have a happy ending - a couple of affluent theatre-lovers are in "advanced" talks to take over and will reportedly offer to allow the Comedie Italienne to continue its shows for eight months of the year. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent