Marilyn Monroe photo may fetch record price

Fri Dec 12, 2008 7:30pm EST
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By Nick Zieminski

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Despite an economic recession and recent dives in art prices, a photograph of Marilyn Monroe could sell for a record price when it is auctioned next week, Christie's said on Friday.

The image by Bert Stern, one of the last pictures of Monroe before her death, could break the $63,000 mark set in 1994, according to the auction house.

Christie's also hopes to set a world auction record for a Helmut Newton work, the richest of which sold for $380,725 last year.

Both are part of the Constantiner Collection, which includes the largest-ever grouping of Monroe photos to come to market, more than 100 in all.

"She is an embodiment of the idea of glamour," said Philippe Garner, international director of photographs at Christie's.

The collection traces Monroe's progression from "a fresh-faced ambitious young girl who wanted to make it in Hollywood, to this more mature but in some ways troubled and confused woman who had the dilemma of trying to disentangle her identity from her audience's expectations," he told Reuters.

She was still a teenager named Norma Jeane Baker when she first posed for photographer Andre de Dienes, who was instrumental in launching Monroe into a modeling career and, eventually, stardom.

One of those early photo shoots resulted in a classic 1945 portrait of Monroe -- still a brunette then -- in front of a farm house, hay at her bare feet, smiling at someone behind the camera.   Continued...