Newbridge museum to display clothes worn by murdered actor

Exhibition of Manson murder victim Sharon Tate's clothes is ‘honouring her memory’, says museum

Clothes worn by actress Sharon Tate, who was murdered by followers of Charles Manson in 1969, are among a collection of personal items that will feature in an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Style Icons in Newbridge, Co Kildare.

The clothes on show include an ivory silk wedding minidress, a mink swing coat, a black lace dress designed by Christian Dior and worn by Tate to the film premiere of Roman Polanski's Cul-de-sac in 1966 and a chocolate-brown silk gown worn to the Golden Globes in 1968

Tate was murdered at her Los Angeles home in 1969 while eight-and-a-half months pregnant, along with four other people. She was married to film director Roman Polanski, and their unborn child was to be her first. The infamous Manson Family Murders, as they became known, horrified the world with their brutality and apparent senselessness.

In addition to clothes, a number of Tate’s personal belongings will also be on show in Kildare. They include books that were on her nightstand prior to her murder, a used mascara wand, and her trademark false eyelashes.

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The items at the Museum of Style Icons will be part of a short-term exhibition running for a fortnight next month. Everything will then be auctioned off by the Los Angeles auction house Julien's Auctions, whose executive director, Martin Nolan, has stated: "We've had more catalogue orders for this auction that any other auction we've done outside Michael Jackson."

The current owner of the items is Debra Tate, Sharon Tate's younger sister, who was 15 at the time of her death. According to Marie Brennan, communications manager with Newbridge Silverware, "Debra helped to curate the exhibition."

Asked whether Newbridge Silverware had considered whether a fee-paying exhibition of items belonging to a murdered woman was in poor taste, Brennan said that Tate’s brutal murder had overshadowed her life and her whole legacy. “This is not what this exhibition is about,” she said. “Sharon Tate was a style icon of the 1960s and we are honouring her memory. It is up to the public to decide for themselves whether they think it is controversial or not, but what we are doing is honouring Sharon’s memory.”

Debra Tate has said she wishes to keep her late sister’s memory alive. She may be selling her sister’s dresses at auction, but she has ensured paper patterns have first been made of “every single thing”. She intends to reproduce the clothes , and sell them as a branded Sharon Tate line.

Polanski, who has been living in self-imposed exile from the US since 1978, having fled prior to being sentenced for statutory rape, has been informed of the upcoming exhibition and sale.

The 50th anniversary of Sharon Tate's death due next August and there has been increasing interest in her – three biopics scheduled for release next year including Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with Margot Robbie as Sharon.

The Sharon Tate exhibition at the Museum of Style Icons in Newbridge,Co Kildare, will run from 8-25 October.