For Sale: The Dress Marilyn Monroe Wore While Singing 'Happy Birthday' to JFK
When Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy, her dress—not her voice—stole the show. The actress wore a glittering, skintight gown while performing at a Democratic fundraiser/presidential birthday celebration held at New York's City’s Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962. A bidder paid $1.27 million for the iconic dress in 1999, but CNN reports that the slinky garment will go back on the auction block today. This time around, it’s expected to fetch up to $3 million.
Julien’s Auctions, a Los Angeles-based celebrity auction house, is selling the dress, along with an assortment of Monroe’s other possessions, including her jewelry, movie costumes, and even personal items like cigarettes, prescription pill bottles, and a used tube of lipstick. All of these items are expected to fetch a pretty penny, but none compare to the bejeweled gown, which Darren Julien, president and CEO of Julien's Auctions, described in a statement (quoted by CNN) as “truly the most important artifact of Marilyn’s career that could ever be sold.” Currently, it holds the record for the most expensive personal clothing item to ever be purchased at auction.
Some people might argue that the white dress Monroe donned in 1955's The Seven Year Itch is more memorable than the one she wore while singing “Happy Birthday” to JFK. Someone purchased it for $4.6 million in 2011, making it the most expensive dress ever to be sold at auction. However, it didn’t truly belong to Marilyn in real life—plus, W points out, the doomed starlet wore the beige gown during one of her last major public appearances. Less than three months after JFK’s birthday, the 36-year-old Monroe was found dead on August 5, 1962.
Bidding for the dress starts at $1 million. To see the full list of items for sale, visit Julien's Auctions.