Marilyn Monroe’s unforgettable “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress is set to be auctioned off again. The dress, which fetched $1.267 million when it last sold at Christie’s in 1999, is now on the block at Julien’s Auctions.
Even before Marilyn Monroe launched into her sultry version of “Happy Birthday” for President John F. Kennedy on May 19, 1962, all 15,000 guests’ eyes were on her. When she took the stage at Madison Square Garden, she removed her white ermine coat to reveal a backless flesh-colored Jean Louis dress dripping with rhinestones in a rosette motif. She’d been sewn into it at the last minute. In 1962, Monroe’s gown was downright scandalous, as was her provocative performance, which seemed more appropriate for a private meeting with the president.
Monroe passed away less than three months later, and she left her belongings to Lee Strasberg. In 1999, the dress was part of an auction of Monroe’s possessions at Christie’s International, where it fetched a record $1.267 million. It was the most ever paid for a single item of personal clothing—one of Princess Diana’s gowns fetched a mere $225,000 in 1997.
Now, the gown is on the block again at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles. On November 17, 2016, the Jean Louis creation—which was based off a sketch by Bob Mackie—will be auctioned off for the second time. First, it will be exhibited at various exhibits in New Jersey, Ireland, and Los Angeles.
A spokesperson for Julien’s says the dress is estimated to fetch $2 to $3 million in the auction.