The Personal Property of
In October 1999, Christies auction house held what became known as the Sale of the Century. They auctioned off personal property that had belonged to Marilyn Monroe. These "belongings" were left to Anna Strasberg by her late husband, Lee, and had been stored ever since Marilyn's death in 1962.
There are mixed feelings surrounding this event. Some fans were thrilled at the prospect of owning something that had actually belonged to Marilyn Monroe. Others were horrified at the thought that her most intimate possessions were being sold to profit a woman who had never even met Marilyn. Most people agree that Marilyn's belongings should be preserved in a museum.
I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. I admit I was caught up in the auction fever, I bought the catalogue, watched it live on TV and via the webcast. I even got up the courage to bid. I'll never forget how my heart broke when the first few lots were sold. All of the lots went for prices that were well above the estimates and out of reach of regular people like me. I am upset that the profits of this auction went to Anna Strasberg. According to Marilyn's will she left her personal belongings to Lee Strasberg with the wish that he would distribute them to her friends. Obviously, this was never done. I think Marilyn would have been horrified to see her thing sold like this. But the thought of actually holding something that she had owned meant more to me at the time.
What really saddens me about the auction is that Marilyn's true fans really never had a chance to get anything. I don't know who was in charge of setting the estimates but they must have been crazy. Seeing so many things listed for only a few hundred dollars really made me think that I had a chance. It appears to me that many items ending up being sold to collectible stores, etc. whose sole purpose is to make even more money off of Marilyn's name.
I have compiled a rather interesting list. It is more than just the auction results. I have included a very brief description of each lot as well as some selected photos. But most interesting is that I have included the original estimates. Now you can really see how far off Christies really was. You can even see who bought what because I have included in brackets the name of any high bidder who made their purchase public.
Note: You will notice that certain lot numbers are missing. These were lots that were pulled from the auction. They included items that were too intimately associated with Marilyn. This included her personal photographs. There were several candid photos of Joe Dimaggio that were pulled from the auction and do not appear in the catalogue.
All results, photos, estimates, etc. copyrighted by Christies.
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