It was a dress that shook the world and was etched in the hearts and minds of millions. On 19 May 1962, Marilyn Monroe wore this custom Jean Louis creation at a Democratic Party fundraiser and early 45th birthday celebration for the then President John F. Kennedy, at Madison Square Garden. The dress was skin tight, so much so that it was sewn onto the beauty’s body; there wasn’t even any room for underwear.
It was a moment that most people are familiar with. Monroe took the stage and sang the most evocative birthday tune in history: Happy birthday Mr President. Monroe wore a snow white ermine fur coat and the flesh coloured dress sparkled with 2 500 hand stitched crystals.
The song and performance were remembered for many reasons, not the least because it was one of Monroe’s last public appearances before her death less than three months later. President Kennedy also died soon after the performance, a year later he was shot. That infamous night at MSG was the last known time they saw each other.
Marilyn’s death in 1962 inspired American artist Andy Warhol to create “Marilyn’s Diptych” — the most famous art homages to her, permanently securing Marilyn’s place in contemporary art history.
Prior to the sale Julien Auctions believed the dress could reach as much as $3 million at the auction on 17 November. The dress sold for $4,800,000. Some other memorabilia that was auctioned included empty pill boxes found in her apartment and personal letters.