World’s most expensive dress purchased at auction

On May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe famously sang Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy for his forty-fifth birthday at Madison Square Garden.

In a time where the word “viral” was not part of the American lexicon, her performance certainly qualified as it swept the media by storm. With her sultry voice and commanding stage presence, it is still one of the most talked about and remembered acts of her career.

The dress designer was Jean Louis, and the original sketch of the dress was done by none other than a young Bob Mackie in his first job out of college.The dress has over 2,500 crystals and 6,000 hand-sewn rhinestones.

The $4.8 million dress

The dress she wore is now the world’s most expensive dress purchased at auction, and it has a new home with Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

At its last auction, the dress sold for $1.3 million to collector Martin Zweig. The second most expensive dress ever sold at auction also belonged to Marilyn Monroe. It was the dress she wore in the film The Seven Year Itch, and sold for $4.6 million.

Seven Year Itch

By Published by Corpus Christi Caller-Times-photo from Associated Press [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On November 18, 2016, we were the winning bidder for the dress at Julien’s Auctions event in Los Angeles.

Marilyn Monroe Auction

Marilyn Monroe Auction

Edward Meyer, Ripley’s VP of Exhibits and Archives – who has been acquiring items for the company for more than 35 years – placed the winning bid for the iconic dress.

This is the most famous item of clothing in twentieth-century culture. It has the significance of Marilyn, of Hollywood, of JFK, of American politics. Any museum in the world would love to have it on display, and now it belongs to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Ripleys Marilyn Monroe Presidnt Dress Auction

Edward Meyer interviewed after winning the auction.

The night full of glitz and glamour

Meyer got to hobnob with one of the most well known Marilyn Monroe impersonators, Suzie Kennedy. She was wearing a pair of earrings and brooch that were also part of the auction.

Ripley Monroe Happy Birthday Dress

Edward Meyer, VP of Archives and Exhibits for Ripley’s Believe It or Not! with Suzie Kennedy, a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. She is wearing a pair of earrings and a brooch that were part of the auction.

Finding a Home for the Dress

Ripley’s will likely first display the dress in its Marilyn Monroe Gallery at Ripley’s Hollywood Odditorium. It will be the signature piece in a collection of several dozens of Marilyn Monroe’s personal items. Ripley’s has plans to eventually tour the dress at several of its 33 Odditoriums worldwide.

Marilyn Monroe "Happy Birthday" Dress

Marilyn Monroe “Happy Birthday” Dress