Disappointing Result for First-Ever “Marilyn”

Andre de Dienes, Marilyn Monroe, Tobay Beach, Long Island, NY, Summer 1949 (1965). Courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery.
Andre de Dienes, Marilyn Monroe, Tobay Beach, Long Island, NY, Summer 1949 (1965). Courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery.


British auction house Henry Aldridge and Sons sold a photograph from Marilyn Monroe’s first-ever professional photo shoot, the BBC reports. Shot at Malibu’s Zuma Beach by Joseph Jasgur in 1946, the image features a 20-year-old Norma Jeane Baker, the name by which Monroe was known before beginning her modeling and acting career.

The lot included the photograph, its negative, and the copyright to the image. However, this notable background and potentially lucrative copyright didn’t rouse an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm from bidders at Henry Aldridge and Sons’ Devizes, England locale. Though estimated to bring £5,000–8,000, the photo was purchased for only £4,250 ($6960).

The image was taken for Monroe’s first portfolio of work for Hollywood-based modeling agency Blue Book. She had been discovered while working in a munitions factory, married to a Merchant Marine. She quickly became one of the agency’s most successful models. And it was through Blue Book that then-Norma Jeane Baker linked up with 20th Century Fox and developed her screen name, Marilyn Monroe.

Commenting on the lot, Henry Aldridge and Sons’ Andrew Aldridge told the BBC that “It was an exceptionally unusual item and to be able to include the copyright added another dimension as we only usually sell the physical item.”

Marilyn Monroe memorabilia has been known to fetch well into the seven-figure range at previous auctions. Her iconic white halter top dress went for $4.6 million at a 2011 sale.

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