Marilyn Monroe’s legendary sheer, crystal-emblazoned dress, which she wore in May 1962 to sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy, sold at auction for a record-breaking $4.8 million, Julien’s Auctions announced Friday.
The $4.8 million bid, well beyond the pre-auction $3 million estimate, edged out the previous most expensive dress ever sold at auction: Monroe’s white costume from The Seven Year Itch, which sold for $4.6 million in 2011.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not bought the “Happy Birthday” dress with the intent to display it at one of their museums, The Guardian reports.
“We believe this is the most iconic piece of pop culture that there is,” Ripley’s vice president Edward Meyer said after the museum chain won the auction. “In the 20th century I cannot think of one single item that tells the story of the 1960s as well as this dress. It’s a new world record for a dress.”
The “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress previously hit the Christie’s auction block in 1999, where it sold for a then-record $1.27 million.
Other than the iconic performance, the dress is also remembered for featuring in one of Monroe’s final public appearances before her August 1962 death, three months after singing at Kennedy’s 45th birthday gala.
“This dress, this story, this momentous occasion represents a defining moment in history,” Julien’s Auctions executive director Martin Nolan said. “This auction will remind the world why Marilyn Monroe remains an icon.”
The dress was the centerpiece of a three-day auction dedicated to Monroe memorabilia.