Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ Dress Expected to Fetch $2 Million at Auction

Monroe had requested a 'historic' dress for the occasion.

Marilyn Monroe's "Happy Birthday Mr. President" dress. Photo courtesy of Julien's Auctions.

A dress so tight she had to be sewn in to it. Sheer, except for the 2,500 crystals that crowded its surface and underneath, a breathless Marilyn Monroe. We have all seen the footage: White lights fill up the stage as the audience waits for Monroe to enter, remove the thick coat of white ermine and sing… “Happy Birthday Mr. President.”

The dress, first sold at auction in 1999, was bought by late American stock investor Martin Zweig for a cool $1.26 million, and Zweig, careful of his investment, stored the dress in a special climate-controlled vitrine ever since. It is expected to sell for at least $2 million this winter as it goes back on sale at the Beverly-Hills based auction house, Julien’s Auctions, on November 17.

Monroe had asked for the dress to be especially “historic,” a request dutifully carried out by Hollywood favorite, designer Jean Louis. “It’s like the equivalent of a Monet, just because of its historic significance and its connection to one of the most important actresses of our time,” said a representative from Julien in conversation with Reuters

The performance is famous indeed, as is its context: May 19, 1962, and John F. Kennedy was about to turn 45, a gala held in effort to raise funds for the Democratic Party. Kennedy was assassinated barely a year later. On an equally tragic note, the gala was one of Monroe’s last public appearance before her death just three months after.

With a stroke of irony in the form of an innocent quip, actor Peter Lawford introduced Monroe that night as “the late Marilyn Monroe” albeit a woman who needs no introduction.

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