Last night, Julien’s Auctions, the world-record-breaking auction house to the stars has sold the world’s most iconic dress of all time – The “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress worn by Marilyn Monroe for $4,800,000. On Saturday, May 19, 1962, at a Democratic fundraiser and early 45th birthday celebration for President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, Marilyn Monroe sang “happy birthday Mr President” to John F. Kennedy. Under a bright spotlight, she walked on stage and peeled away her white ermine fur coat, revealing a skintight, sheer, flesh-colored dress that sparkled with over 2,500 handstitched crystals.
The custom Jean Louis creation was so tight fitting that Marilyn wore nothing underneath and had to be sewn into it last minute. When Marilyn appeared and the dress was finally revealed the entire audience gasped.
All in all, Marilyn’s performance lasted approximately 30 seconds, but more than five decades later, it remains the most famous version of “Happy Birthday” ever. The dress, the performance, Jacqueline Kennedy’s absence and photographs from the evening would spark ravenous rumors of an affair between the President and Marilyn.
Other highlights of this first day of a three-day auction of Marilyn Monroe personal and career items included the “Some Like it Hot” cocktail dress which sold for $450,000; a Marilyn Monroe “Rose Tattoo” premiere gown sold for $125,000; a pair of Marilyn Monroe owned Ferragamo shoes sold for $34,000; the Marilyn Monroe “Niagara” negligee sold for $59,000; a Marilyn Monroe owned rhinestone bracelet sold for $18,750; a group of Marilyn Monroe owned magazines sold for $10,000; the “No Business Like Show Business” gown sold for $81,000; the Marilyn Monroe “Bus Stop” costume , studio image and tear sheet sold for $100,000; a Marilyn Monroe the “Prince and the Showgirl” gown and window card sold for $75,000; a Marilyn Monroe program from President Kennedy’s 1962 Birthday Celebration sold for $12,500; a Marilyn Monroe signed tile from President Kennedy’s 1962 Birthday celebration sold for $12.500; a Marilyn Monroe received letter from Jean Kennedy Smith sold for $28,000; a Bob Mackie sketch of the Happy Birthday Mr. President gown sold for $10,000.