Kim Kardashian’s walk up the Metropolitan Museum’s stairs at this year’s Met Gala caused quite the stir, but one thing Ripley’s Believe It or Not! can say with confidence is that it did not cause damage to Marilyn Monroe’s famed “Happy Birthday” dress from 1962.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is not the first owner of this dress. It was acquired at a Julien’s Auctions event in 2016 for $4.8 million. A report written on the dress’s condition in early 2017 states, “a number of the seams are pulled and worn. This is not surprising given how delicate the material is. There is puckering at the back by the hooks and eyes,” among other instances of damage.
Since then, as a privately owned company, Ripley’s has displayed the historical gown at a number of its attractions around the world. The company understands the risks associated with this, but Ripley’s Believe It or Not! has been collecting notable pop-culture memorabilia, historical items, and unbelievable artifacts for over 100 years. Our mission is to both entertain and educate visitors and fans, and sparking conversations like the discourse around Marilyn Monroe’s dress does just that. No matter which side of the debate you are on, the historical importance of the dress has not been negated, but rather highlighted. A entirely new group of young people has now been introduced to the legacy of Marilyn Monroe.
Kim Kardashian wearing the “Happy Birthday” dress has been hotly contested, but the fact remains that she did not, in any way, damage the garment in the short amount of time it was worn at the Met Gala.
“From the bottom of the Met steps, where Kim got into the dress, to the top where it was returned, the dress was in the same condition it started in,” noted Ripley’s VP of Publishing and Licensing, Amanda Joiner, who was continuously with the dress the day of the Gala and during transport from Orlando to New York.
A recent social media post asked, “Was it worth it?” Kim Kardashian did not pay Ripley’s Believe It or Not! to wear the dress, nor did the company pay her. Rather, Kardashian made a charitable donation to two charities in the greater Orlando area on behalf of the company.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! will continue to exhibit the dress — in as-is condition — at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Hollywood through Fall 2022.