Marilyn Monroe’s white Subway dress by William Travilla (an American costume designer for theatre, film, and television), the most recognized costume in film history, from The Seven Year Itch movie, has sold for $5.6 million at an auction in Los Angeles.
The dress, which sold last night at the Profiles in History auction house in Calabasas, California, is one of a selection of iconic film costumes and memorabilia collected by Hollywood star Debbie Reynolds over the years as Hollywood studios sold or emptied their warehouses. Reynolds, 79, was in tears as the auction on the iconic Seven Year Itch dress closed. Wining bid was a $4.6 million and with $1 million commission, the buyer will pay $5.6 million. It had been expected to sell between $1 million and $2 million, the auction house, Profiles in History, said.
The red-sequined showgirl gown and a feathered hat Monroe wore in“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes sold for $1.47 million. The expected price was $300,000. Monroe’s costumes from There’s No Business Like Show Business and River of No Return brought another $1.2 million. The previous record price for a Monroe dress was $1.26 million paid in 1999 for the sheer white dress the actress wore in May 1962 when she sang Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy.
But Marilyn wasn’t the only apple of collectors’ eyes: Judy Garland’s Dorothy test dress from The Wizard of Oz was estimated to sell between $60,000 and $80,000. After taxes, it was sold for $1,119,000. Dorothy’s test ruby red slippers, which were estimated to sell between $120,000 and $150,000, went for $612,000 including tax. A matador outfit worn by Rudolph Valentino for the 1922 film Blood and Sand sold for $258,000. The auction house predicted before the sale it would go for about $80,000.
Many of the items had been given to Reynolds by her close friend Dame Elizabeth Taylor, who died earlier this year. The horse racing outfit worn by Taylor as a child in National Velvet sold for $73,800. Charlie Chaplin bowler hat was estimated at $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $135,300. Gary Cooper’s Sergeant York uniform sold for $67,650 and his rifle went for an extra $23,370, while Ingrid Bergman’s suit of armour worn for the role of Joan of Arc sold for $61,500.
Reynolds accumulated 3,500 movie costumes and thousands of props over the past 50 years with the hope of housing them in a museum. Taking care of the treasures became a financial burden on the 79-year-old entertainer, leading to her decision to sell, she said. [icollector]