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Marilyn Monroe’s iconic costumes from ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,’ ‘River of No Return’ up for auction

Some of Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic costumes are hitting the auction block.

Items once worn by Hollywood’s most famous star will be up for grabs at Los Angeles-based auction house Julien’s Auctions in a Nov. 1 sale titled “Property from the Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe,” Fox News has learned.

It will feature some of the icon’s most dazzling pieces from such films as 1953’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” 1954’s “River of No Return” and 1955’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” among others.


Marilyn Monroe’s costume from 1954’s “River of No Return.” (Julien’s Auction)

In addition, personal items will be part of the glamorous collection of 115 items. One of the coveted items is a plunging v-neck black gown that she likely wore to the July 1958 press conference for the 1959 film “Some Like it Hot.”

Couturier William Travilla, the designer behind the iconic “subway dress” Monroe wore for 1955’s “The Seven Year Itch” also made the red dress she wore as showgirl Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” The floor-length crimson silk gown adorned in sequins, along with the feathered headdress, is expected to fetch between $60,000 and $80,000.

There’s also the decadent three-piece ensemble Monroe wore for the musical number in “There’s No Business Like Show Business” titled “Heat Wave.” The dress, considered racy for its time, features a black bandeau top adorned with sequins and a floral, floor-length skirt lined with six layers of hot pink ruffles, which expertly showcased Monroe’s torso. The look was completed with an oversized white straw hat with orange flowers, as well as a black silk bikini-style bottom brief.

Marilyn Monroe’s costume for her “Heat Wave” musical number in 1955’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” (Julien’s Auction)

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the outfit allegedly enraged Monroe’s then-husband Joe DiMaggio and he refused to be photographed with his wife wearing the costume on set. The dress is expected to fetch between $60,000 and $80,000.

DiMaggio and Monroe called it quits in 1955.


The outlet said the costumes were originally part of Debbie Reynolds’ collection of old Hollywood memorabilia that went up for auction in 2011 when the actress sold off her items after she attempted to create a museum. The Monroe memorabilia was then purchased by a wealthy collector.

Marilyn Monroe’s costume from 1953’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” (Julien’s Auction)

“Marilyn is the ultimate legendary woman of Hollywood, so it was easy to include her in this auction, Darren Julien, president of Julien’s Auctions, told THR.

“Julien’s has become the leader in the world of Hollywood and rock ’n’ roll and especially Marilyn Monroe, holding the world record of $4.81 million.”

And the demand for items personally owned by Monroe has remained high since she passed away in 1962 at age 36 from a barbiturate overdose. Monroe’s iconic white costume from “The Seven Year Itch,” also once owned by Reynolds, sold for $4.6 million in 2011. The sheer, body-hugging Jean-Louis dress Monroe wrote to sing “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy also sold for nearly $5 million in 2016.

Marilyn Monroe’s press dress to promote 1959’s “Some Like it Hot.” — Julien’s Auction


Nicolas Kent, the executive producer behind the Smithsonian Channel special titled “Marilyn Monroe for Sale,” told Fox News in 2018 that there’s no denying Monroe memorabilia is hotter than ever.

“In some ways, these items are almost like religious relics,” said Kent. “People just flock to them. These items that you wouldn’t think would have any value actually go for thousands of dollars just because Marilyn owned them. A recipe for stuffing that she liked in 1957 sold for $6,400.”

Marilyn Monroe is seen wearing the iconic gown from President Kennedy’s birthday fundraiser during a reception in New York City. Standing next to Monroe is Steve Smith, President Kennedy’s brother-in-law. This photo is provided by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. (Associated Press)

However, it was the legendary sheer, crystal-emblazoned “birthday dress” that truly made history when it was sold.

“She spent her own money having a dress designed for the celebration,” said Kent. “And this dress was really the closest thing that you could come to be naked on film at that time. It was a power play. She outshone Jackie Kennedy. She kind of outshone JFK himself. She dominated the event. She was on stage for what, a minute, singing ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President.’ But she’s the only thing anyone remembers about that night.


Marilyn Monroe is all smiles as she poses with fans in front of the Wilshire Beauty Shop at the premiere of director Jean Negulesco’s film “How to Marry a Millionaire” in 1953. (Getty)

“The surprising thing that comes from her personal items is how deliberate and shrewd Marilyn was about planning her career and how she wasn’t afraid to take risks. We don’t mention this in the documentary, but apparently, when she went to New York, she went to Jackie Kennedy’s hairdresser. The same person who did Jackie Kennedy’s hair did Marilyn Monroe’s hair for that night… She deliberately set out to outshine everyone. And she did. It wasn’t an accident.”

“Property From the Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe” auction is taking place in Beverly Hills and online on Nov. 1.


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