David Gainsborough Roberts’ collection of Marilyn’s costumes and personal items is well-known to fans. I was lucky enough to see it at Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire in 2005 (the ancestral home of Marilyn’s poet friend, Dame Edith Sitwell.) He has also exhibited his Monroe collection at the American Museum in Bath, and London’s Getty Images Gallery.
However, Mr Roberts has also purchased items belonging to many other stars, historical figures, and even a few notorious criminals. A selection of his acquisitions – including Marilyn’s red beaded dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – is on display until September 2nd at Christie’s, South Kensington. In an interview with the celebrated auction house, he revealed how the red Travilla dress spurred a lifelong pursuit:
“It was 1991, I’d bought several things at Christie’s, and this Marilyn dress came up. The model was a good friend of mine, Pauline Bailey. I bid £16,000, something like that, and the press went bananas, she jumped up and down – I must have looked terrified! It took off from there, the next day I arrived back here in Jersey and my mother said to me ‘what have you been doing? The phone hasn’t stopped.’ And I said ‘believe me, seven days from now, Marilyn Monroe, Pauline Bailey and me – nobody will give a damn’ and the phone hasn’t stopped since 1991.”
Another MM lookalike, Suzie Kennedy, appeared at the opening of ‘Famous and Infamous’ yesterday, reports the Daily Mail.
The French fashion designer, Agnès B, has revealed in a video posted by The Awl that she was given a private view of the Christie’s auction of Marilyn’s personal property in 1999. She was touched by the simple elegance of Marilyn’s possessions, a world apart from today’s celebrity culture of ‘bling.’
“When Christie’s auction house announced the sale of Marilyn Monroe’s personal estate, my interest was piqued…I have always enjoyed watching Marilyn wiggling and whispering across the screen. I relate to her desire to self-educate. I identified with some of the grimmer aspects of her childhood…I always empathized with her ballsy struggle to replace dismal aspects of her past with a life of glamour.”
After seeing Marilyn’s personal possessions on display, Doonan realised that she was anything but a Material Girl:
“The majority of her clothing showed surprising wear and tear. She had worn it all repeatedly and there just wasn’t that much of it.
Shoes? Yes, there were several pairs of black suede Ferragamo stilettos with worn heels. But Marilyn—brace yourself for another shocker—was more into books than shoes. Her poignant desire to cultivate her mind and give herself an education resulted in an extensive library of first editions. Take that, Carrie Bradshaw!
This stunning lack of materialism made me love and respect her more. What do you need in life other than a good book, a few capri pants, and a cotton sundress or two?”
Auction of these rare photographs, taken by Max Youngstein during filming of The Misfits in 1960, at Christie’s in South Kensington, London, on November 25. Arthur Miller, producer Frank E. Taylor and Eli Wallach can be seen with Marilyn in these pictures.