Monroe dress fetches $5.6m

Sun, Jun 19, 2011, 01:00

Marilyn Monroe's ivory pleated 'subway' dress sold for more than $5.6 million at auction last night, with bidders paying another $2.7 million for three other Monroe movie outfits.

It was the first in a series of auctions of a massive collection that singer, dancer and actor Debbie Reynolds accumulated over the past 50 years, CNN reported.

Reynolds was in tears when, after 20 minutes of drama, the gavel sounded an end to bidding with the price at $4.6 million.

The auction house Profiles in History takes $1 million commission, which means the buyer will pay $5.6 million for the dress made famous by the 1955 movie scene.

It had been expected to sell for $2 million. The buyer, who was bidding by phone, was not immediately identified.

The red-sequined showgirl dress 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 fetched 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 famously sang 'Happy Birthday' to President John F. Kennedy.

Reynolds (79) accumulated 3,500 movie costumes and thousands of props over the past 50 years with the hope of housing them in a museum.

The actor, who starred alongside Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain, explained in the auction catalogue that her love for collecting began early in her career with movie giant MGM.

“I used to spend my spare time in the wardrobe department, watching the most talented people create costumes for the actors. I was fascinated by how they were able to translate a simple suggestion in a script, sometimes even a piece of dialogue, into a magnificent costume.”

Other items sold at the auction included a blue cotton dress and a pair of ruby slippers made for Judy Garland in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. Although both items were only test costumes never worn in camera, they fetched a combined price of nearly $1.75 million.

A bowler hat worn by Charlie Chaplin in several films sold for $135,300.

Racing silks and riding pants worn by a young Elizabeth Taylor in "National Velvet fetched $73,800.