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Posted by on Jun 20, 2011 in Fashion, Featured, Movies | 1 comment

Isn’t it Delicious! Marilyns Dress Sells for $4.6-million

marilyn monroe

It is one of the most recognised images in screen history – Marilyn giddily holds down her billowing dress as the draft of a passing subway train rushes through the grate on which she is standing. “Isn’t it delicious,” she giggles in the iconic scene from the 1955 film The Seven-Year Itch. The ivory-hued William Travilla designed dress that has been so synonymous and symbolic of Monroe since then has just sold for a staggering $4.6-million.

Marilyn’s “Subway Dress” was the star piece amongst almost 600 items of classic film costume and memorabilia sold during a marathon 12 hour auction held in Beverley Hills over the weekend. The $4.6-million sale price far exceeded the auctioneers expected selling price  of between just $1 – $2-million.

The dress, and all the other items on sale, were all part of the massive personal collection of screen legend Debbie Reynolds.

auction-1The Debbie Reynolds Collection is deemed to be the most significant collection of Hollywood costumes and props since the liquidation of the MGM and FOX studios in the 1970’s. The entire collection contains over 3,500 costumes, 20,000 original photographs, several thousand original movie posters, original costume sketches and hundreds of key props from film history. Auctioneers Profiles in History will sell the massive collection through a series of auctions which started with this one on June 18.

Reynolds has been collecting and preserving Hollywood costumes and props from Academy Award winning films including Gone With the Wind, Ben Hur, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music and Casablanca for over 50 years. Reynolds, now 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.”

The colossal collection includes garments designed by Travilla, Travis Banton and Edith Head some of the industry’s most renowned costume designers and were worn by film icons Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Charlton Heston, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Gene Kelly, Richard Burton and many more.

auction-3But her dream of displaying her beloved costumes in a museum was dashed when the Tennessee museum project she was working on went bankrupt in 2006. She was forced to sell the collection to pay back creditors. “Now everyone has the opportunity to own them,” Reynolds said.

Some of the other highlights from the sale included:

Audrey Hepburn’s

      iconic Ascot dress from

My Fair Lady

      (1964) designed by legendary costume designer Cecil Beaton


      Estimated price: $200,000 – $300,000 –

Selling price: $3,700,000Marilyn Monroe’s

      “Lorelei Lee” signature red-sequined “Two Little Girls from Little Rock” showgirl gown with feathered hat by Travilla from 1953’s

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

      Estimated price: $200,000 – $300,000 –

Selling price: $1,200,000Judy Garland’s

      “Dorothy Gale” blue cotton test dress with polka dot trim and ivory sheer puff-sleeved blouse by Adrian from The Wizard of Oz (1939) worn in the first 2 weeks of filming only


      Estimated price: $60,000 – $80,000 –

Selling price: $910,000Julie Andrews’

      “Maria” red-brown nubby jumper with white blouse from ”Do-Re-Mi” number from

The Sound of Music



      Estimated price: $40,000 – $60,000 –

Selling price: $550,000Marilyn Monroe’s

      “Kay Weston” gold charmeuse saloon-girl gown by Travilla for

River of No Return



      Estimated price: $80,000 – $120,000 –

Selling price: $510,000Judy Garland’s

      “Dorothy Gale” Arabian-pattern test “Ruby Slippers” from The Wizard of Oz (1939) that were used in wardrobe test photos, but were never screen used


      Estimated price: $120,000 – $150,000 –

Selling price: $510,000Grace Kelly’s

      “Frances Stevens” 2-piece rose crepe outfit from the scenic drive scene in

To Catch a Thief



      Estimated price: $30,000 – $50,000 –

Selling price: $450,000Rudolph Valentino’s

      “Juan Gallardo” signature ‘Suit of Lights’ matador outfit by Travis Banton for the 1922

Blood and Sand

      Estimated price: $60,000 – $80,000 –

Selling price: $210,000Julie Andrews’

      “Maria” acoustic guitar, autographed by Andrews, from

The Sound of Music



      Estimated price: $20,000 – $30,000 –

Selling price: $140,000Charlie Chaplin’s

      signature bowler hat from numerous productions as “The Tramp” character


      Estimated price: $20,000 – $30,000 –

Selling price: $110,000Elizabeth Taylor’s

      signature royal ceremonial headdress from the 1963 movie


      Estimated price: $30,000 – $50,000 –

Selling price: $100,000Marlon Brando’s

      “1st Lt. Fletcher Christian” complete naval outfit with extra parts from

Mutiny on the Bounty



      Estimated price: $6,000 – $8,000 –

Selling price: $90,000

auction-2The full auction catalogue and all of the item selling prices can be found on the iCollector Debbie Reynolds Auction pages.

With so many of this first sales’ items fetching prices well beyond their initial estimates, I wonder if Ms. Reynolds will still actually need to sell off the entire collection?

Info, Images & Sales Data: iCollector, Additional Info: Reuters

1 Comment

  1. $4.6 million for a 60 year old dress?? Even if it was worn by MM that’s ridiculously wasteful in these trying economic times.


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