Marilyn Monroe "subway" dress sells for $4.6 million

Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:36pm EDT
 
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By Mary Slosson

BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - The pleated ivory dress that blew around Marilyn Monroe in an iconic scene from "The Seven Year Itch" sold for $4.6 million at a weekend auction of Hollywood costumes -- far exceeding its estimate.

The so-called "subway" dress is perhaps the most recognizable in movie history. In Billy Wilder's 1955 movie, a passing train sent a draft through a grate as Monroe giddily stood above it proclaiming, "Isn't it delicious?"

The William Travilla design was estimated to sell for between $1 million and $2 million, the crown jewel at a 12-hour auction of nearly 600 costumes and pieces of memorabilia being sold by actress Debbie Reynolds in Beverly Hills on Saturday.

Monroe's red-sequined dress from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" went for $1.2 million. Its pre-sale estimate was $200,000 to $300,000. Audrey Hepburn's Ascot dress from "My Fair Lady," carrying the same estimate, sold for $3.7 million.

The collection featured costumes worn by other Hollywood stars, from Grace Kelly, Natalie Wood and Elizabeth Taylor to Madonna and Mike Myers.

Reynolds, 79, began amassing the impressive collection when she was a young actress under contract at MGM. When the studio auctioned off everything except its real estate in 1970, she turned a pastime into what she called an "obsession."

But her dream of displaying her beloved costumes in a museum was dashed when a Tennessee project went bankrupt in 2006, and she was forced to sell them to pay back creditors. "Now everyone has the opportunity to own them," Reynolds said.

Other costumes sold by auction house Profiles in History included:   Continued...