Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Marilyn Monroe Dress Fetches $4.6M

The pleated ivory dress that billowed around Marilyn Monroe in an iconic scene fromThe Seven Year Itch sold for US$4.6 million at a weekend auction of Hollywood costumes, far exceeding its pre-sale estimate of US$1 million.

The so-called 'subway' dress is perhaps the most recognizable in film history. In Billy Wilder's 1955 movie, a passing train sent a draft through a grate as Monroe stood above it proclaiming, "Isn't it delicious?" The William Travilla design was the undisputed highlight of a 12-hour auction of nearly 600 costumes and pieces of memorabilia being sold by actress Debbie Reynolds in Beverly Hills on Saturday.

Other Monroe memorabilia were on sale, as well. The sultry actress's red-sequined dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes went under the hammer for US$1.2 million; its pre-sale estimate was US$200,000 to US$300,000. The collection featured costumes worn by other Hollywood stars, from Grace Kelly, Natalie Wood and Elizabeth Taylor to Madonna and Mike Myers. Audrey Hepburn's Ascot dress from My Fair Lady, carrying the same estimate, sold for US$3.7 million.

Reynolds, 79, began amassing the impressive collection when she was a young actress under contract at MGM. When the studio auctioned off everything except its real estate in 1970, she turned a pastime into what she called an "obsession".

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