Marilyn Monroe and baseball great Joe DiMaggio were married January 15, 1954, and divorced nine months later. And while their marriage was brief, there is little doubt they cared deeply for each other.
A signed Marilyn Monroe photograph to Joe DiMaggio reading “I love you Joe,” sold for $300,000 in early December at Heritage Auctions, setting a new record for a signed Monroe photograph.
The picture, a publicity still for the 1953 movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, was already among the most famous and coveted of Monroe’s portraits. It is now the most valuable as well.
The photograph was offered within Heritage Auctions’ latest Historical Platinum event, which was filled with documents written and signed by titans of history such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy and Theodore Roosevelt and realized more than $2.48 million.
But five words handwritten by one woman topped them all.
“Bidding was extraordinary from the moment the auction began, with heated battles among collectors over some of the most significant artifacts Heritage has ever had the privilege of bringing to market,” said Executive Vice President Joe Maddalena. “But as someone so enamored of Monroe – as an actor and icon, as someone whose fame has only increased with each passing year – I am particularly thrilled to see this benchmark realized during this event.”
The photograph has extraordinary provenance, having come from the Joe DiMaggio collection with a signed letter from DiMaggio’s daughters, Paula DiMaggio Hamra and Kathie DiMaggio Stein.
In May 2022, Andy Warhol’s iconic Marilyn Monroe portrait, the 40-inch-square “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn,” sold for a record $195 million at Christie's in New York, becoming the most expensive 20th-century artwork ever to go under the hammer.