LOS ANGELES – A racy and controversial costume that Marilyn Monroe wore in There’s No Business Like Show Business grabbed the top-lot spotlight after selling for $280,000.
The sale was part of Julien’s recent “Legendary Women of Hollywood” auction, which included an extravaganza of other memorabilia and rarities from the Golden Age of Hollywood to today’s modern legends, as well as a selection of never-before-seen auction firsts.
Leading this popular culture event was property from the life and careers of Monroe and Mae West and the personal collection of Lucille Ball. Other Monroe costumes were also top sellers.
The winning Monroe costume, which soared way above its estimate of $60,000-$80,000, was originally from the collection of Debbie Reynolds. The extravagant three-piece ensemble designed by master couturier, William Travilla, and from Irving Berlin’s There’s No Business Like Show Business (20th Century Fox, 1954) was worn by the star, who played Vicky Parker, during the saucy “Heat Wave” song and dance number. It consists of a daring black silk bandeau top, a black silk bikini-style bottom brief and a classic, over-sized straw hat painted white with added orange silk flowers. The racy costume was met with controversy, including from Monroe’s husband, Joe DiMaggio, who allegedly refused to be photographed with his wife wearing the costume on the set, according to Julien’s.
Other Monroe costumes that were top lots and also from the collection of Reynolds were the iconic floor length, red silk, long-sleeved sequined dress, with matching headdress, that she wore in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which sold for $250,000 – also way above its estimate of $60,000-$80,000; and the bright yellow silk, floor-length period gown worn by her as Kay Weston in the final scene of the 1954 drama, River of No Return (20th Century Fox). The ensemble sold for $175,000, against an estimate of $60,000-$80,000.
The red silk dress Jane Russell also wore in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes sold for $43,750 (estimate was $20,000-$30,000).
Monroe’s signature-style black cocktail dress likely worn to the 1958 press conference for her blockbuster film, Some Like It Hot, sold for $100,000 – thousands more than its estimate of $40,000-$60,000.
“This collection of Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic costumes that were worn by the screen legend in some of her most acclaimed and incandescent film performances excited not only her millions of fans, but curators and collectors who are interested in owning and preserving these museum-worthy pieces of the Golden Age of Hollywood history and fashion,” said Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien’s Auctions.
Other highlights included a snake-form cuff bracelet worn by Rita Hayworth in Down to Earth and Gilda, which sold for $25,600; an original Wayland Flowers “Madame” puppet, which sold for $12,500; Erté costumes and gowns from Stardust, with the Barbie costume selling for $10,240; the scarlet costume Mae West wore in Diamond Lil, which sold for $9,000; a small writing desk of Lucille Ball’s that sold for $4,375; and Liza Minnelli’s custom Bob Mackie wedding dress that sold for $6,400.
For more results, visit julienauctions.com.