Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’ Dress Might Sell for $3 Million

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe in the iconic gown she wore while singing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy. The actress is standing next to Steve Smith. Cecil Stoughton/White House Photographs, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum via AP

Some like it…costly! The iconic dress Marilyn Monroe wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in May 1962 might fetch major bucks when it goes up for auction in L.A. on November 17.

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The one-of-a-kind Jean Louis gown worn by the Seven-Year Itch star — who died of a sleeping pill overdose at the age of 36 just three months later, in August 1962 — previously sold at a 1999 Christie’s auction for $1.26 million. To date, that’s the highest auction price any garment has fetched, Time reports. But this time around, the design, which features more than 2,500 hand-stitched crystals, is expected to cost its buyer between $2 and $3 million, predicts Julien’s Auctions.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, shortly before his 45th birthday, in 1962. Getty Images

There’s more to the garment than meets the eye. “She called it skin and beads,” Julien’s president Darren Julien explained to the Associated Press. He added that because it was “sewn on[to] Marilyn Monroe, [the previous owner Martin] Zweig had it professionally mounted on a mannequin. It’s never been off it, and is immaculately preserved.”

Monroe’s sequin gown from the movie Some Like it Hot will also go up for auction in November and joins a collection of over 1,300 artifacts accumulated by Monroe’s acting coach Lee Strasberg (to whom the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes actress left her entire estate) and British collector David Gainsborough-Roberts.

If the price tag doesn’t suit your budget but you’d still like to see the dress in the flesh, you’re in luck. It will be showcased at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, New Jersey, from September 25 through October 22. From there, it journeys to an exhibit at the Museum of Style Icons in Newbridge, Ireland, from October 29 through November 6.

“This is the last auction of its kind,” Julien concluded. “We have the final of [Strasberg’s] estate items as they relate to Marilyn Monroe. It’s literally going to be the last opportunity to ever experience a Marilyn Monroe auction like this again.”

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