Top ten pieces of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia

Marilyn Monroe, the original blonde bombshell, remains an icon of Hollywood and glamour the world over - probably better known in many countries than when she was alive. She remains one of the highest earning dead celebrities and a byword for feminine sex appeal.

Likewise her memorabilia and autographs remain an excellent investment. Co-founder of International Autograph Auctions, Richard Davie, picked out her signature as one which reliably retains and tends to increase its value.

Monroe collectors can look forward to several collectible items appearing in an auction at Julien's in New York in June. Until then, here's a look at some of our favourite pieces of memorabilia linked to the Prince and the Showgirl star.

See through top

First, the most eye-catching piece in the June auction is a chest X-ray of the star. Whilst pictures are in circulation of the star naked, this is one step more up close and personal than most people would expect to get.

The X-ray was taken at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Florida, where Monroe had surgery for endometriosis, in November 1954 and kept as a souvenir. It is offered with an estimate of $1,200, though we suspect it may fetch more than that.

Signed in her prime

A Bank of America cheque dated November 7, 1951 is a reminder than the star suffered from psychological ailments as well as physical ones.

It is made out to a psychiatrist Dr A Gottesman, whom she may have been seeing due to the sudden death of her devoted agent Johnny Hyde who suffered a heart attack less than a year earlier. Marilyn attempted suicide soon afterwards. She was also starting to suffer from stagefright which persisted through her career.

A more triumphant image of Marilyn is presented by a signed magazine page from the 1950s, referring to her under the headline 'super stars: the younger set'. Both these signatures are currently on the market.

The last thing she wore

An excellent example of how investment in the star's memorabilia can pay off is shown by her bathrobe, which sold for $6,000 at Christie's a decade ago, but sold for $120,000 at Julien's Auctions late last year. It is thought to be the last thing she wore before her death in 1962.

A jet black Cadillac

A number of cars were associated with the actress over the years including a black limousine, a black Thunderbird sports car and third husband Arthur Miller's Jaguar. However, it is a black Cadillac which is a star piece at Russia's Vyborg collection, which also includes cars which belonged to Elvis and Richard Nixon.

This could be one of two:  Monroe was given a black Cadillac for appearing on The Jack Benny Show in the early 1950s. On the other hand, she hopped into second husband Joe DiMaggio's black Cadillac immediately after they were married in 1954.

Some like it pot

In 2009, collector Keya Morgan paid £165,250 for a home movie which appears to show the Some Like it Hot star enjoying a joint.

Monroe is certainly very relaxed and giggly in the clip as she takes a draw on a roll-up of some description. The anonymous cameraman claims to have brought the cannabis himself.

Iconic images

Andy Warhol famously made a number of silkscreen prints of Monroe, which are all collectible, though they vary in their rarity. For example, 'Black Marilyn' led a Christie's sale last year, bringing 134,500. Another rare example is currently available for collectors.

Piano for the stars

World famous singer Mariah Carey bought the star's white, baby grand piano in 2006 for $662,500. Whilst not associated with Monroe in any very famous images, Carey wanted the instrument more because it was from a time before Monroe was famous.

"The piano belonged to her mother and was a piece of her childhood", she explained. It is now probably worth a little more through the association with another star.

Happy Birthday Mr President

One item which certainly is associated with a famous image of the star is the dress she wore to sing Happy Birthday to President John F Kennedy. The sultry tone was unforgettable, and the dress sold for $1.27m in 1999. It would be worth far more now.

As intimate as you get

Remarkably, a piece of Marilyn Monroe's underwear is currently on the market. The handmade black lace and mesh bra is the most intimate piece of memorabilia a Monroe collector could wish for, but is on offer for just under £10,000.

Marilyn Monroe's black lace bra
Marilyn Monroe's black lace bra, size DS

Face to face forever

Finally, the most committed Monroe fan could go one better than any of these. Whilst most Marilyn collectors intend to enjoy their purchase before death, one fan paid an extraordinary $4.6m for the burial lot above the star.

Elsie Poncher sold the opportunity on eBay to a fan known only as 'OS'. The price is surprising not least because Ms Poncher sold the lot despite her late husband having taken up residence there himself 23 years ago, facing downwards - it hardly makes the arrangement seem permanent.

We can't recommend this last option, even if it were available, but perhaps it demonstrates just how strong the cult of Marilyn remains, even now.


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