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    Monday, April 1st, 2024


    With  over eight thousand bids online, and on the phone, from countries across each continent such as the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Mexico, Monaco, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Germany, and Hong Kong the ICONS: PLAYBOY, HUGH HEFNER X MARILYN MONROE sale at Julien’s Auctions realised over $4 million. Though the two Hollywood icons remarkably never met, Hugh Hefner’s and Marilyn Monroe’s legacies became inextricably linked when Monroe appeared in Hefner’s inaugural 1953 issue of Playboy. In that moment, they gained worldwide fame becoming two important figures of twentieth-century America and Playboy establishing itself as an iconic global brand.

    The most expensive lot of the three day sale was Monroe’s pink Pucci long-sleeved dress of silk jersey which sold for $325,000, the top selling lot of the event that set a new world record of most expensive Pucci dress sold at auction. Monroe’s The Seven Year Itch costume– a Mae West-inspired black and cellophane effect evening gown designed by legendary costume designer William Travilla worn by Monroe in the classic 1955 film’s dream sequence scene, which was later cut from the film–sold for $127,000.

    A letter from Jean Smith, one of the children to Rose and Joseph Kennedy and sister to John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and four other siblings that reads: “Dear Marilyn – Mother asked me to write and thank you for your sweet note to Daddy – He really enjoyed it and you were very cute to send it. / Understand that you and Bobby are the new item! We all think you should come with him when he comes back east! Again thanks for the note. / Love, Jean Smith” sold for $28,575, seven times its estimate of $4,000.


    Friday, February 9th, 2024
    Pauline Boty – Epitaph to Something’s Gotta Give (1962). UPDATE: THIS MADE £1,050,000 AT HAMMER

    Pauline Boty’s celebratory tribute to Marilyn Monroe, Epitaph to Something’s Gotta Give (1962) is among the highlights of Christie’s Modern British and Irish Art evening sale in London on March 20. One of Pop Art’s founding members, Pauline Boty died prematurely at the age of 28 in 1966. Epitaph to Something’s Gotta Give is one of only around 25 Pop paintings that Boty created and was included in a rare lifetime exhibition at Arthur Jeffress Gallery in London in 1962. The painting was gifted to a close friend of Boty’s in 1964 and has remained in the same collection since.  It is estimated at £500,000-£800,000.

    Boty painted two further depictions of Monroe as tributes to the actress following her death, both of which are held in museum collections: Colour Her Gone, 1962 (Wolverhampton Art Gallery) and The Only Blond in the World, 1963 (Tate, London). Boty studied at the Royal College of Art, the seedbed of the Pop Art movement, where she met, befriended and went on to exhibit with Sir Peter Blake, Derek Boshier, David Hockney, Peter Phillips and Patrick Caulfield. In 1961, she exhibited along with Blake and two others at the A.I.A. Gallery in a group show seen as the very first Pop Art exhibition.


    Saturday, January 13th, 2024
    An interior shot of Palazzo Volpi in Venice with contents to be sold by Sotheby’s in Paris.

    Art mirrors life and the life it is currently mirroring is one of censorship and intolerable attacks on freedom of expression.  The art world has not been immune as  the Israeli-Hamas war has spawned a new wave of hidden and not so hidden persuaders who move to stifle anything other than total support for hardliners against humanity. Against this background of global uncertainty there is a pipeline of interesting international sales coming up in 2024.  On offer already are a variety of covetable lots as diverse as the contents of a sumptuous Venetian palace on the Grand Canal to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Archive to a Royal portrait by Velazquez and property from the life and career of Marilyn Monroe.  We must assume that all this will be okay once there is nothing in these auctions – such as seeking a ceasefire in Gaza – that can be construed as anti-semitic.

    A pair of stools or tabourets delivered to the Empress Josephine at Christie’s in New York

    Sotheby’s will offer 200 lots from Palazzo Volpi in Venice at an auction in Paris on February 28. The collection will include palatial Roman tables, ballroom banquettes, art panels in the style of Jacopo Sansovino, Wagner sofas and Venetian mirrors. Julien’s will offer contents from the Playboy archives and from Marilyn Monroe at a three day sale in Los Angeles on March 28, 29 and 30.  Highlights will include a Playboy Bunny silkscreen by Andy Warhol and a black and cellophane effect evening gown worn by Monroe in The Seven Year Itch.  The Velazquez portrait of Isabel de Borbon is at Sotheby’s in New York on February 1.

    A black and cellophane effect evening gown worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch at Julien’s

    Elvis Presley’s Gretsch guitar from his Las Vegas residency is among the lots at Christie’s Exceptional Sale in New York on the same day along with a pair of c1800 tabourets or stools delivered to the Empress Josephine at Chateau de St. Cloud.

    It has the potential to be an exciting year with many records being broken at home and abroad.  Yet in 2024 there are well founded accusations of censorship in an art world that has never been noted for its lack of freedom of expression.  In New York board members and many art writers withdrew in protest after the editor of the prestigious Artforum magazine, David Valasco, was abruptly fired when a letter supporting Palestinian liberation was published which omitted to mention the victims of the Hamas attack on October 7.  Advertisers like gallerist David Zwirner and the Chanel culture fund threatened to withdraw.The Saarland Museum in Germany cancelled an exhibition by Candice Breitz, who is Jewish and has condemned Hamas, saying they would not show works by anyone who does not recognise Hamas terror as a rupture of civilisation.  The entire selection panel for the next curator of Documenta, a global art exhibition in 2027, resigned after disputes with administrators about the war. This mirrors the wider environment.  Think of resignations like that of Harvard President Claudine Gay in a campaign led by the Wall Street Jewish financier Bill Ackman whose wife is a former member of the IDF. You do not need to be a soothsayer to know there will be more resignations. UPDATE: The first American retrospective of Samia Halaby (87), regarded as one of the most important living Palestinian artists, has been cancelled by officials at Indiana University.

    Andy Warhol’s original Playboy Bunny at Julien’s.


    Monday, July 18th, 2022

    A figure-hugging embellished gown worn by Marilyn Monroe in her 1954 classic film There’s No Business Like Show Business enchanted collectors and fans of the screen goddess as the dress designed by William Travilla was the top-seller at Julien’s Auctions Hollywood Legends sale this weekend. It made $218,750 over an estimate of $80,000-$100,000.  A pair of sequin embellished leotard costumes screen-worn by Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in their 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes made $102,400. Among other top lots were Chris Evans’ Captain America original hero prop “Vibranium” shield used in The Avengers which made $200,000; an original Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope stormtrooper helmet made $192,000 and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  “Nimbus 2001” broomstick made $76,800.


    Sunday, November 18th, 2018

    The Monroe Thunderbird

    Marilyn Monroe’s Golden Globe award for World Film Favorite Female 1961 from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association became the top selling Golden Globe award sold at auction when it made $250,000 at Julien’s icons and idols Hollywood sale.  Monroe’s 1956 Raven Black Ford Thunderbird convertible driving to auction for the first time in history made $490,000. Other iconic items connected to Monroe’s mystique included the black satin blouse with matching necktie Monroe wore to a press conference at Los Angeles Airport on February 26, 1956 which made $43,750, over four times the original estimate and her copy of Playboy’s first issue with Monroe on the cover signed by publisher Hugh Hefner.  This made $32,000.


    Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

    The Ford Thunderbird owned by Marilyn Monroe from 1955 to 1962 comes up at  Julien’s Auctions annual blockbuster event Icons and Idols, Hollywood on November 17 in Los Angeles. It is estimated at $300,000-$500,000. One of the most desired women in the world, Monroe’s life was deeply troubled, but she was enjoying some of the happiest days of her life during the time she owned this car.

    Monroe married celebrated playwright Arthur Miller soon after buying the Thunderbird. A published report at the time suggests that Monroe and Miller drove this vehicle to their civil wedding ceremony on June 28, 1956 and likely their private wedding on June 30, 1956.

    The Marilyn Monroe Thunderbird was purchased on December 20, 1955, from Westport Motors, Westport, Connecticut in the name of her corporation, Marilyn Monroe Productions. Most accounts suggest it was a Christmas gift from her business partner and photographer, Milton Greene.

    UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $490,000


    Friday, September 22nd, 2017

    The largest collection of Judy Garland costumes, Sir Cyril Norman Hinshelwood’s 1956 Nobel Peace Prize medal, JFK’s rocking chair and Donald Trump’s souvenir wedding cake will feature at Julien’s Icon and Idols auction in a live and online auction in Los Angeles on November 17.  The sale will include property of Marilyn Monroe, former King Edward VIII, Neil Armstrong, Charlie Chaplin, Steve McQueen, Barbra Streisand, Bruce Lee, Greta Garbo, Brad Pitt, Grace Kelly and Humphrey Bogart.

    Highlights include a petal pink turn-of-the-century slip worn by Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis ($3,000-$5,000) along with the red velvet ball gown she donned while singing “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the 1944 iconic holiday moment in the film ($4,000-$6,000);  the 1956 Nobel medal (Sir Cyril was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize with Nikolay Semenov of the USSR for their researches into the mechanism of chemical reactions, specifically in the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen) ($200,000-$400,000); a 1963  oak and leather upholstered rocking chair commissioned and gifted by President John F. Kennedy to Senator Stanley Arnold ($8,000-$10,000), an exact replica of Kennedy’s famed rocking chair  built by White House upholsterer Lawrence Arata on the recommendation of the President’s doctor and a souvenir wedding cake from the 2005 marriage of President Donald Trump to First Lady Melania Knauss ($1,000-$2,000). As the actual seven-tier wedding cake (reportedly costing $50,000) was not eaten by the wedding guests due to the amount of wire used to make it stand, the individual chocolate truffle cake favors were taken home to enjoy.  Here is a small selection:

    Judy Garland’s gown in Meet me in St. Louis

    Souvenir wedding cake from Donald Trump’s 2005 marriage to Melania Knauss

    JFK presidential rocking chair.

    Bruno Bernard‘s original black and white vintage photograph taken and signed by Bernard on the set of The Seven Year Itch (1955) ($10,000-$20,000);




    Sunday, March 26th, 2017

    From the necklace worn by Vivien Leigh and cigar case used by Clark Gable in “Gone With the Wind” (1939) to earrings worn by Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953) the sale by Julien’s Auctions of property from Joseff of Hollywood next November is rich in important Hollywood memorabilia from a Golden Age on screen.  And they are on display at the Newbridge Silverware museum of Style Icons from now until May 14.  Marilyn Monroe’s skin tight dress was previously exhibited at the County Kildare museum.

    Legendary stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Vivien Leigh, Judy Garland, Olivia de Havilland and Greta Garbo are among the impressive list of Hollywood’s biggest stars who wore Joseff’s designs. Highlights of the sale include necklaces worn by Bette Davis in “The Virgin Queen” (1955); a brooch worn by Marlene Dietrich in “Shanghai Express” (1932); Loretta Young’s crown and comb from “Suez” (1938); earrings worn by Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like it Hot” (1959); a necklace, earrings and ornaments worn by Greta Garbo in “Camille” (1936); Order chains worn by Katherine Hepburn in “Mary of Scotland” (1936); a necklace worn by Judy Garland in the “Ziegfeld Follies” (1946); a brooch worn by Lana Turner and medallion worn by Vincent Price in “The Three Musketeers” (1948) and a necklace worn by Olivia de Havilland in “My Cousin Rachel” (1952).

    In the 1930’s and ’40’s Joseff supplied nearly 90% of all jewellery worn on screen. He developed an antiqued plating technique specifically designed to soften the glare of the harsh studio lighting and give every piece a veneer of authenticity. Joseff of Hollywood was established in the late 1920’s. After Eugene Joseff’s untimely death in 1948 his wife J.C. managed the business  until her death aged 97 in 2010.  The live and online auctions take place at Julien’s next November 16 and 17.

    (See post on for September 7, 2016)

    A pair of earrings worn by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blonds.

    Rhett Butler’s one of a kind cigar case from Gone with the Wind.

    A necklace worn by Bette Davis in The Virgin Queen

    The Loretta Young crown from Suez.


    Friday, November 18th, 2016

    That dress. The front view.

    That dress. The front view.

    The rear view.

    The rear view.

    The skin tight flesh coloured dress worn by Marilyn Monroe as she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to JFK  has just sold for a hammer price of $4 million at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles. Lot number 83 was described as the historic dress worn by Marilyn when she sang to JFK at Madison Square Garden in 1962.  It was an early 45th birthday celebration.The custom made Jean Louis creation was so tight fitting that Marilyn had to be sewn into it at the last moment.

    Under a bright spotlight Marilyn Monroe walked on stage and peeled away her white ermine fur coat, revealing the sheer dress that sparkled with over 2,500 handstitched crystals. Her intimate tone and projection of the words Mr. President stunned the audience.  She died three months later, the President was assassinated the following year.  Prior to the sale the dress was displayed in Ireland at the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons.

    It was bought by Ripleys Believe it or Not! which owns a chain of museums.

    (See posts on for September 7 and June 2, 2016)


    Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

    That dress. The front view.

    That dress. The front view.

    The skin tight flesh coloured dress worn by Marilyn Monroe as she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to JFK  is to be displayed at the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons in Ireland before being sold by Julien’s Auctions on November 17.  The custom made Jean Louis creation was so tight fitting that Marilyn had to be sewn into it at the last moment. It will be displayed on the mannequin designed to match her body measurement.

    On Saturday, May 19, 1962, at a Democratic fundraiser and early 45th birthday celebration, President John F. Kennedy took his seat in Madison Square Garden at what was to become one of the most iconic moments in entertainment and political history. In front of 15,000 guests, many of them celebrities, actor Peter Lawford made an introduction that would change the course of pop culture and Presidential folklore forever. Under a bright spotlight Marilyn Monroe walked on stage and peeled away her white ermine fur coat, revealing the sheer dress that sparkled with over 2,500 handstitched crystals. Her intimate tone and projection of the words Mr. President stunned the audience. Jacqueline Kennedy was not present. The song lasted just 30 seconds. Sadly this was one of Marilyn’s last public appearances and the last time they met. She died three months later, the president was assassinated the following year.

    The rear view.

    The rear view.

    Prior to the auction, the “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress will go on tour. It is to be shown at MANA Contemporary in New Jersey as part of the Exhibition “Marilyn: Character Not Image” followed by the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons (MOSI) in Kildare, Ireland from October 29 to November 6 before making its way back to the Julien’s Auctions Gallery in Los Angeles.

    The catalogue cover for the sale show's Marilyn wearing the dress on stage.  Courtesy Julien's Auctions

    The catalogue cover for the sale show’s Marilyn wearing the dress on stage. Courtesy Julien’s Auctions

    “We have had remarkable opportunities to offer unique objects related to Marilyn Monroe in the past,” said Martin Nolan, Executive Director of Julien’s Auctions. “To be part of the continued interest and excitement around this legend is always thrilling. This dress, this story, this momentous occasion represents a defining moment in history. This auction will remind the world why Marilyn Monroe remains an icon.”

    Three days of live and online auctions from the life and career of Marilyn Monroe and the collection of Lee Strasberg will kick off at Julien’s on November 17.

    (See post on for June 2, 2010)