Marilyn’s ‘Asphalt Jungle’ Costume (and More) at Heritage Auctions

Four costumes worn on screen by Marilyn will go under the hammer at Heritage Auctions this Saturday, December 17, as part of the Hollywood Entertainment & Signature Auction 7316.

Firstly, the trouser suit worn by Marilyn for her breakout role in The Asphalt Jungle (1950) has sparked interest among fans, as it is seldom seen in public. “Well, finally it has surfaced,” said Rick Carl of Marilyn Remembered. My friend, John LeBold (a major costume collector) owned it and showed it to me years ago. I was happy to learn the colour and that it survived.

Vintage original 2-piece bespoke beige crepe jumper with integral blouse with short shawl collar, ¾-sleeves with crème stripes, and hoop and button front closure. Integral pleated pants match the design of the crème-striped sleeves and feature a banded waist with self-fabric belt hoops and zipper front closure. Includes the beige web belt with self-fabric covered brass buckle. Interior unlined. Highly visible in the scene when ‘Emmerich’ (Louis Calhern) discovers ‘Angela’ (Marilyn) sleeping on a sofa and throughout the scene. Exhibiting age and production wear. In vintage Very Good to Fine condition.”

SOLD for $75,000

Next up is the atypical plain dress worn by Marilyn for the downbeat drama, Don’t Bother to Knock (1952.)

“Vintage original green and black patterned cuffed short-sleeve, knee length, shift dress with white cotton, lace-edged Peter Pan collar, and snap front closure. Created by legendary film, stage, and screen costume designer William Travilla, who designed some of Marilyn’s most famous costumes. Altered for subsequent production, the collar has been added, sleeves shortened and cuffed, front buttons removed and self-belt not included. Visible throughout the movie and in the trailer and other publicity materials. Retaining the internal fabric bias label handwritten, ‘1-27-1-7611 Marilyn Monroe A-661-05’ sewn in at the seam. Exhibiting wear and age and some fading to areas. Now presents in vintage Good to Very Good condition.”

SOLD for $25,000

This costume is seen only briefly in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), on a poster outside the theatre where Marilyn and Jane Russell perform their cabaret act during their trip to Paris. However, both stars wore their identical costumes in publicity shots for the movie.

“Vintage original bespoke showgirl leotard constructed of form-fitted nude nylon panels ornamented with sunflower yellow and jet-black sequins, clear and black strung bugle beads, faceted crystals, black bead tassels and sprays, with large crystal embellishment of a variety of shapes and sizes of faceted crystals ringing the halter collar and culminating in a cluster of brooch-style crystals at the plunging v-neckline of the garment. With zipper and hook and eye back closure, and black lace over nude fabric at the hips. The interior has been reinforced for display with 2-web bands, which are gently thread-basted and easily removed. The leotard retains its original internal 20th Century-Fox bias label handwritten in ink, ‘M. Monroe’ and an interior studio paper laundering tag. Exhibiting wear, rubbing to base fabric, exposed elastic shoulder straps, and sequin and bead loss, soiling throughout, not detracting from the spectacular effect of the dazzling, glamorous, and revealing costume. In vintage Very Good condition.”

SOLD for $50,000

Marilyn had several copies of the dress she wore for most of her screen-time in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957.)

“Vintage original short-sleeved, floor-length mermaid ball gown constructed of crème silk, and sheer organza sleeve with pearl-beaded sweetheart neckline and form-fitted bodice, embellished with delicate seed pearls and faceted rhinestones and beads on ruched bust, left sleeve, and lower sleeve above the voluminous, heavily-weighted ivory satin ‘mermaid tail’ hem. Left sleeve with top hook and eye closure extending to the side zipper closure surrounded by more hook and eye closures.

Custom designed and constructed to Marilyn Monroe’s legendary form by British designer Beatrice Dawson … Retaining the internal Western Costume bias label handwritten ‘#5 Marilyn Monroe’.

Exhibiting expected age and production wear. Of the three examples of this dress we’ve encountered, this is by far the prime article. The quality and preservation of materials and embellishments are unparalleled. Most minor soiling from age and storage can be easily reversed and the appearance of the gown further enhanced by the new owner. Otherwise, in vintage Very good to Fine condition.”

SOLD for $100,000

SOLD for $10,625

Prints by Andre de Dienes, Philippe Halsman, Arthur ‘Weegee’ Fellig, Roy Schatt, and George Barris are also available, plus this vintage photo with an inscription from Marilyn herself: ‘To Vernon,/ the customer is always right/Marilyn Monroe’. Interestingly, it’s the same Gene Kornman image (mass-produced at Twentieth Century-Fox) that Marilyn would sign for husband Joe DiMaggio, which set a new record at Heritage Auctions earlier this month with a high bid of $300,000 (see here.)