Marilyn Helps to Save Paris Theatre

A Parisian theatre has repaid its lockdown debts by selling a handkerchief said to have been owned by Marilyn, the Telegraph reports. Marilyn lived at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel for several months in 1955, and also made numerous public appearances there. She was not a resident in 1960, but she was a client of hairdresser Kenneth Battelle, whose salon was located at the Waldorf, from the late ’50s onwards. Whether or not the handkerchief was really owned by Marilyn is unclear, but as the article says, “a happy ending is not to be sneezed at.”

“A handkerchief belonging to Marilyn Monroe has single-handedly saved a historic Paris theatre from bankruptcy after its owner auctioned the legendary Hollywood actress’s ephemeral possession for €300,000 (£270,000). For decades, the silk kerchief with floral embroidery and bordered by ivory lace had pride of place in the baroque hall of the Comédie Italienne, France’s only theatre dedicated to Italian commedia dell’arte, in Paris’ Left-Bank 14th arrondissement. Its owner, Attilio Maggiulli, kept it as a lucky charm and the item even inspired a play two years ago called Le Mouchoir de Marilyn (Marilyn’s Handkerchief.)

According to Mr Maggiulli, the handkerchief came into his possession after a series of cross-Atlantic twists of fate. A concierge at New York’s luxury Waldorf Astoria hotel first found the item in the toilet of the room in which Monroe had been staying in 1960, he told Le Parisien. He offered it to pop art icon Andy Warhol who in turn passed it on to the illustrious art gallery owner Leo Castelli. In 1983, Mr Castelli gave the unused hanky to Mr Maggiulli as a keepsake at a time when he was renting him out a small theatre space in Soho in New York.

Almost 40 years later, the nonconformist Italian said the gift had proved a godsend for the theatre, which was facing financial ruin in February shortly before the coronavirus pandemic struck, despite donations from patrons. Reluctantly, he contacted a group of wealthy fans of the theatre and organised a private auction. The handkerchief went to an unnamed bidder described as ‘someone who adores the theatre and admires Marilyn,’ according to Mr Maggiulli’s associate, Claudine Durand-Simone.

Despite the financial boost, the theatre is still for sale after 46 years in the hands of its Italian boss. However, here too, the tale may have a happy ending. According to the owner, just before Paris went into lockdown in March, a couple of affluent theatre-lovers visited the venue and talks over a sale are at an ‘advanced stage’. The potential new owners have reportedly offered to buy the theatre but allow the Comédie Italienne to continue its shows eight months of the year.”