“Happy birthday Mr President” dress up for auction

By Margo White

During a party at the home of movie executive Arthur Krim, American actress Marilyn Monroe stands between Robert Kennedy (left) and John F. Kennedy, New York, New York, May 19, 1962. The party followed a democratic fundraiser at Madison Square Garden honoring John F. Kennedy's birthday where Monroe famously sang "Happy Birthday.' (Photo by Cecil Stoughton/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
During a party at the home of movie executive Arthur Krim, American actress Marilyn Monroe stands between Robert Kennedy (left) and John F. Kennedy, New York, New York, May 19, 1962. The party followed a democratic fundraiser at Madison Square Garden honoring John F. Kennedy's birthday where Monroe famously sang "Happy Birthday.' (Photo by Cecil Stoughton/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Looking for a chance to own a piece of history? That dress Munroe described as "skin in beads" could go for up to $3 million.

The flesh-coloured frock Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang a sultry serenade to John F Kennedy is going under the hammer.

Munroe wore the silk gauze dress when she sang “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy at his 45th birthday celebrations held at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1962.

She referred to the dress, which was nude-coloured, backless and encrusted in 6000 hand-sewn rhinestones, as “skin in beads”.

According to legend, the garment was so figure-hugging she had to be sewn into it, which delayed her appearance. JFK’s brother-in-law, the actor Peter Lawford, stalled for time, and as she walked on stage joked, “Mr. President, the late Marilyn Monroe!”

It turned out to be an unfortunate quip. Munroe died less than three months later, aged 36.

The gown originally cost Munroe $12,000. Thirty-seven years later, in 1999, it was sold for $1.27 million at Christie’s, fetching a record amount for a single item of clothing sold at auction.

It’s expected that the dress will go for US $2-3 million at John Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles, when it goes up for auction in November.

Before then, it will be on show at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, New Jersey, and the Museum of Style Icons in Newbridge, Ireland.

The front and back of Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday’ dress. (Photo  Julien’s Auctions)
The front and back of Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday’ dress. (Photo Julien’s Auctions)

 

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