Marilyn Monroe’s Iconic ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’ Dress Sells for $4.8 Million

Marilyn Monroe Happy Birthday Mr. President dress
Marilyn Monroe sings "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden on May 20, 1962. Bettmann Archive via Getty Images


A dress to impress! Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “Happy birthday, Mr. President” gown has sold for a whopping $4.8 million at Julien’s Auctions’ collections of Marilyn Monroe sale on Thursday, November 17, in L.A.

The Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum chain put in the highest bid for the rhinestone-encrusted dress, which Monroe wore on May 19, 1962, to serenade President John F. Kennedy with her rendition of “Happy Birthday” at a Democratic fundraiser held in Madison Square Garden in New York. The president was celebrating his 45th birthday that year.

“We believe this is the most iconic piece of pop culture there is,” Edward Meyer, vice president of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, said after the purchase. “In the 20th century I cannot think of one single item that tells the story of the 1960s as well as this dress. It’s a new world record for a dress.”

Marilyn Monroe Happy Birthday Mr. President dress
Former actress Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “Happy birthday, Mr. President” dress is viewed during a press preview at MANA Contemporary Museum in Jersey City, NJ, on Sept. 22, 2016. KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images

In fact, the gown is the most expensive personal item of clothing ever sold, according to CNN. It broke its own record of $1.27 million, the auction price at a Christie’s event in 1999.

Darren Julien, president and CEO of Julien’s Auctions, issued a statement regarding the massive selling of the iconic dress. “Tonight was one of the most important moments in our history as a company,” he said. “We were incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to offer this amazing dress from the most legendary screen star of all time.”

Marilyn Monroe Happy Birthday Mr. President dress
Steve Smith (left), President John F. Kennedy’s brother-in-law, and Marilyn Monroe at Madison Square Garden in New York City on May 19, 1962.

Created by Hollywood costume designer Jean Louis, the custom-made design is a floor-length, skintight, flesh-colored gown with more than 2,500 hand-stitched crystals.

“This dress, this story, this momentous occasion represents a defining moment in history,” Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien’s Auctions, said. “This dress will remind the world why Marilyn Monroe remains an icon.”

The iconic dress celebrated its 54th birthday this year. 

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