The Divine Marilyn exhibition (first reported here) has now opened at Galerie Joseph at 116 rue Turenne in Paris, through to September 22. You can read a report (in French) on the launch over here. (Photos by Joshua Greene, and Ma Zaz at Marilyn Remembered.)
In a new interview for the Hello Giggles website, Joshua and Amy Greene talk about Marilyn and their spectacular book, 50 Sessions: The Essential MM By Milton Greene.
“On meeting Marilyn for the first time at Gene Kelly’s house:
AG: So, I also have to tell you that very few people in Hollywood had ever seen Marilyn because she was almost a recluse. She got up, she went to work, and she came back. So Milton said, ‘I’m gonna get Marilyn’ and come back to Gene’s house, [and] that’s where I met her. She came walking in. She was wearing a big Polo coat and no makeup. Her hair looked good. I sort of waved at her and she waved at me. The first break, I went over to her and she threw her arms around me and said, I’m delighted to meet you, and I kissed her. It was lovely because we became girlfriends.
On finding out about Marilyn’s death:
AG: We were in France, in Paris. Milton was doing the collections for Life magazine, and there was a radio. I kept saying, ‘Well let’s try to get some music or something.’ All we got was news, news, news, and neither one of us could understand French that well. All of a sudden, the words Marilyn Monroe came on. We didn’t know what it was. So, we went to [Château de] Fontainebleau, had a wonderful picnic lunch, drove back to Paris, and the first thing we heard—the telephone was ringing off the wall. It was Arthur Jacobs, who was her publicist trying to get us all day. And he said Marilyn’s dead. […] I collapsed. Milton was staggering. That was the last thing we expected.
On the subconscious feminism of Marilyn and Marilyn Monroe Productions:
JG: When you look at the history of what she was up against, what she did—she knew exactly what she was doing with men, and she knew exactly what she wanted to do for herself. With the right help [and] the right people, she was able to change and break the chain, break the glass ceiling, for someone with essentially no power and no money in the ‘50s as a woman. You gotta look at it through those rose-colored glasses. There’s movements that were created based on her life path—things that she wasn’t necessarily doing for that reason—she was just fighting for her freedom.”
This is the final cover for the standard edition of The Essential Marilyn Monroe – Milton Greene: 50 Sessions, now making its way to readers in the UK and beyond. (Big spenders can also order a limited edition, boxed version with a print for £1,500.)
The first review has already been posted on Amazon by Fraser Penney:
“An absolutely amazing book on Marilyn’s and Milton Greene’s photo sessions. This book has many unpublished and alternate shots of the classic images we’ve all come to know. There’s also some funny ones of Marilyn clowning in front of camera in a playful way, showing the warmth the two shared during their years of friendship.
The book is a joy from start to finish with a few pages of text by Joshua Greene, film producer Jay Kanter and another of Marilyn’s photographers, Douglas Kirkland.
With a brief introduction to each of the 50 sessions, offering an insiders insight, it’s the most spectacular homage to Marilyn and Milton’s collaboration, friendship and professional relationship.
In the words of Marilyn’s assistant (how she’s described in book) Pat Newcomb, writes, ‘This is a truly authentic look into Monroe’s life, and the best collection of photographs of the world’s most glamorous star by someone who really knew her.'”
Joshua Greene has spoken to the Hollywood Reporter about this epic project:
“‘The first time I released unseen images was in 1993, with Milton’s Marilyn. It was our early days of restoration, and if you go through that book, the color work is really inconsistent,’ he explains. “We also ran images to look like contact sheets, so many were very small, and it just wasn’t impactful. I was really disappointed in the outcome of that project. This time around, I wanted to make sure that what had happened there would never happen again.’
‘I look at this as the last hurrah, because I would like to retire,’ says Joshua, who’s 63. Of the book’s 284 images, 160 are — you guessed it — never before seen. ‘I started working on this about five years ago, originally with about 600 images,’ Joshua says. ‘The restoration work is very tedious; some photos took as much as 60 hours per frame. I would love to have included more images, but we also did what was best for the layout and formatting of this book.’
Joshua believes his father would approve of both the choice and quality of the images. ‘Milton was a maverick in the darkroom; nobody knew printing techniques better than he did,’ he says. ‘I started working with him in the darkroom when I was 11 years old. If the old man was alive today, I know he would have embraced today’s digital technology.’
Also key to the selection was to convey the ease and intimacy of his father’s friendship with an enigmatic woman who continues to captivate the public’s imagination. ‘They were very comfortable with each other, and she trusted him, and you see that in these photos,’ Joshua notes. ‘Ultimately he’d be thrilled with what we’ve created this time around. I’ve kept this fire burning for a long time, but with this, I know he’d be proud.'”
The ongoing saga of Milton Greene’s missing Polish photo archive has taken another unexpected turn, reports the New York Times. A collection of 3,100 prints will be auctioned this Wednesday, June 25 – on condition that the archive stays in Poland, and that the buyer give all but 100 prints to a Polish museum. You can learn more about the auction here.
“This Wednesday, DESA Unicum in Warsaw will be auctioning 3,100 of Greene’s pictures of Marilyn Monroe and other celebrities. It is the largest — and final — lot to be offered since a successful offer of 403 prints in 2012.
‘It was the greatest auction in Polish history,’ said Julius Windorbski, the chairman of the auction house. ‘From a P.R. point of view and a financial point of view. There were over 650 bidders. The average bidding and final price compared to starting price was 10 to 15 times more.’
Understandably, Joshua Greene, one of the photographer’s sons, differs. Already upset over the 2012 auction, he was flabbergasted to learned that a much larger lot was to be auctioned this week. He said he was outraged that the collection was no longer in the family’s possession and that it was being mishandled. ‘They misidentified things,’ he said. ‘They did not know the difference between a modern day print and a vintage print.’
Before Mr. Greene died of cancer in August 1985, he had named as heir and co-executor Joanna Thorman, a 29-year-old model whom he had met five years prior, and one whom the family had gone so far as to bar from the hospital during his illness. After a two-year legal battle, the estate became the Milton Greene Trust, with Ms. Thorman as the trustee and the two sons the primary beneficiaries.
Greene left behind vintage prints, negatives, color transparencies — and a great deal of debt. To save the estate from bankruptcy, Ms. Thorman hired an acquaintance named Dino Matingas, a Chicago real estate investor and steel-company owner who later admitted to American Photo magazine that he knew nothing about photography. He agreed to acquire the Greene estate, ‘to get Joanna to stop bugging me about buying it,’ he told the magazine in 1993.
Mr. Matingas purchased it for $350,000 without looking at it. The problem is he bought the copyright to the images, too.
While all of this was going on, Mr. Matingas had been doing business with the Polish Foreign Debt Service Fund, known as FOZZ, secretly buying up foreign debt. According to an August 1992 Chicago Tribune report, the Polish government sued Mr. Matingas, claiming he had used 20 or more investment subsidiaries in business dealings that resulted in his being unable to account for $15.5 million in Polish funds. A spokesman for Poland’s Ministry of Finance said that when the government liquidated FOZZ, they tried to recover Mr. Matingas’s debt.
All Mr. Matingas formally owned at the time was a collection of 3,500 photographs, mostly of Marilyn Monroe.
Mr. Matingas could not be reached for comment. A call to a number that had once been linked to him was answered by someone who said he no longer lived there. Nor could Ms. Thorman be reached.
A bank acting on behalf of the Polish government took possession of the prints and held on to them until 2012, when they were brought to Warsaw. That fall, two auctions were held at the DESA Unicum, generating 2.4 million zlotys (about $750,000 then) from the event.
Joshua Greene who runs Archives LLC in Oregon, where he sells digitally restored prints of his father’s historical collections, said he was unaware of this week’s Warsaw auction. ‘If that is something you know about, I would love to know about it, too,’ he said.
He had already been hit hard last year, when 75,000 of his father’s celebrity negatives and slides, including 3,700 unpublished black-and-white and color negatives and transparencies of his Monroe archive were sold at auction — along with copyright — through a website called Profiles in History, in Los Angeles.
The seller, according to the auction house, was an anonymous American photography collector who purchased the archive about 10 years ago, and the images came with their copyrights from the Greene estate via the financial institution in Poland.
‘That was a nightmare that came back to haunt me and my family,’ Joshua Greene said.
Mr. Greene explained he had agreed to the transfer of the copyright to Polish officials 10 years ago because he wanted to end the dispute that had arisen from Mr. Matingas’s financial dealings.
This week’s auction in Poland is very different. ‘We are not selling negatives and we are not selling the copyrights,’ Mr. Windorbski said. ‘We are only selling vintage and licensed prints.’
And they will be sold with one strict condition.
‘We decided with the Ministries of Culture and of Finance that this has to go to a museum or a city that creates a museum that is made up of this collection,’ Mr. Windorbski said.
Whoever buys the collection can keep only 100 prints. The rest must end up in a museum. In Poland.
‘Milton Greene will probably have his own museum in Poland,’ Mr. Windorbski said. ‘It’s quite strange, but we’re very excited.'”
ABG, the licensing arm of Marilyn’s estate, has launched yet another brand. Marilyn Monroe Envy is a range of lingerie – which is ironic, since Marilyn found underwear confining and avoided it whenever she could.
The cover image is a merging of two well-known Milton Greene photos. Some fans are unhappy with this, when there are so many thousands of gorgeous originals to choose from. However, Milton’s son Joshua has stated that a unique, one-off image had been commissioned for the advertising campaign.
When asked if she wore anything at all to her famous calendar shoot, Marilyn memorably replied, ‘I had the radio on.’ However, at the foot of the page on the website, another sentence has been added – ‘I did too have something on.’ In fact, she never said this. The phrase ‘did too’ was not commonplace in Marilyn’s time, and makes her sound rather like a stroppy teenager!
While I understand the desire to keep Marilyn’s image up-to-date for marketing purposes, I can’t help feeling that her essence is being sidelined, and am doubly concerned that her estate seems to be encouraging this.
The much-vaunted Newsweek special, Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Scrapbook, is now on sale across the US, although some deliveries may have been delayed due to poor weather.
It isn’t yet available elsewhere, but I would advise fans to be patient rather than paying vast prices on Ebay. The magazine will be on sale until March 14, and speaking as a UK resident, I’ve found it’s normal for American magazines to arrive up to a month after publication. (And as I’ve mentioned before, previous Newsweek specials have been sold at WH Smith.)
Over on the Marilyn Monroe Collection Blog today, Scott Fortner gives us a preview – including several pages dedicated to Marilyn’s personal property, now owned by himself, and others by Greg Schreiner.
As to the rest of the magazine, Scott tells us that it ‘includes an introduction written by Joshua Greene, and has many photos of Marilyn along with comments from photographers Douglas Kirkland, Lawrence Schiller and Elliott Erwitt. Other information on Marilyn is also included in glossy, full color spreads.’
Despite the rather distasteful rumour-mongering about Marilyn’s relationship with Sam Shaw that has dominated media coverage of this issue, I remain confident it will be a must-have for fans.
Writing for the Associated Press, Ula Ilnytzky investigates the Profiles in History auction (set for July 27th) which includes 3,700 rare negatives and transparencies of Marilyn – with copyright – taken by perhaps her finest photographer, Milton H. Greene.
‘It’s a big, big deal. It’s like selling the recipe for Coca-Cola,’ said Joseph Maddalena, owner of Profiles in History, which auctions original Hollywood memorabilia and artifacts.
Peter Stern, an attorney specializing in arts-related matters, raised concern that unsigned prints made from the negatives could hurt the market. ‘It’s not that hard to sign a photo,’ he said.
But Maddalena noted: ‘There are no vintage Milton Greene photographs. … He was a work-for-hire photographer’ shooting covers for Look, Life, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and other magazines.
Like his contemporaries, Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, Greene is credited with elevating fashion photography to fine art. But unlike them, Greene did not commercialize his work. ‘Only a handful was published,’ Maddalena said.
The seller is an unidentified American photography collector who purchased the archive about 10 years ago.
The items came from the Greene estate ‘via a financial institute in Poland that had secured ownership from Greene in a business dealing’ with the copyright, the auction house said in a statement.
The photographer’s son, Joshua Greene, called it ‘a bad business deal.’
He said that in the process of severing the partnership, he gave them the copyright, calling it ‘my mistake, which I regret to this day.’
He plans to attend the sale.
‘I hate to see Humpty Dumpty broken up into so many pieces — 268 lots. I’d like to see it all come back home under one roof where it belongs,’ he said.
Negatives and transparencies fade and deteriorate and would need to be digitally re-mastered by anyone who bought them to preserve them forever — a lengthy process that Greene said takes up to 20 hours per negative.
Mark Vieira, an author on the photographic history of Hollywood, said he was flabbergasted by the vastness of the collection.
‘Usually this kind of material offers you a slice of history. The Greene collection is more like a chunk of history,’ Vieira said.”
The sale is attracting a great deal of media attention. Over the weekend, the UK’s Daily Mail published an article about Marilyn’s close friendship, and business partnership with Greene (including a nod to Heather Williams‘s profile of the photographer for Immortal Marilyn.)
For most fans, the photos are likely to be out of their price. However, Profiles in History are selling an auction catalogue for $50, featuring the Monroe pictures and other items on sale. It makes a good companion to Greene’s previously published books; Of Women and Their Elegance, Milton’s Marilyn and But That’s Another Story.
The 1998 documentary, Marilyn in Manhattan, is now available to view on several video-on-demand channels, reports the New York Post, interviewing Joshua Greene.
“’The Actors Studio, [my father’s] crowd and the jazz scene were doors which took Marilyn into another world which had nothing to do with Hollywood glamour,’ says Greene, who now runs a photo archive in Oregon. ‘She educated herself by surrounding herself with jazz musicians and intellectual minds. It was all about being a professional.’
Meanwhile, Greene still has the stuffed cat with calico fur that Monroe gave him for his second or third birthday. He’s forgotten its name, but will always treasure those playful memories of his beloved stand-in aunt.
‘Water would collect [in the yard] outside our house and I would splash in the puddles,’ he says. ‘I’d be naked as a jaybird, of course, and Marilyn would come and splash with me. We’d have these little water fights, stuff like that. It was pure, simple, innocent fun.’”
A business article about dead celebrities and merchandising at the Daily Telegraph includes a long section on Marilyn’s estate, and the recent break with CMG:
“By testing its rights of publicity claims in court, CMG took a huge gamble – and lost. Sam Shaw’s and Milton Greene’s families seem genuinely saddened at the estate’s reversal of fortune, which they believe was avoidable. ‘If we had all worked as a team there would have been no litigation,’ claims Joshua Greene, who has not been recompensed for the millions of dollars owing to him in unpaid licensing fees. He stresses that with no agents involved, he enjoys very different, relaxed working relationships with the families of such stars as Sammy Davis, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne and Richard Burton.
Although allegations that the Monroe estate is bankrupt have been denied by Strasberg’s lawyers, legal documents indicate that they have spent between $14-17 million in legal fees, although Greene puts it at nearer $20 million. Greene believes the sale of Monroe’s licensing rights to Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which also represents Bob Marley, has not only saved the estate from financial disaster but also her image may go more upmarket. New 2012 products and campaigns involve Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Gerard Darel and Smash, an NBC TV series about a fictional Marilyn-themed Broadway musical.
One mystery remains: what will happen to the 25 per cent of Monroe’s estate inherited by her Manhattan psychoanalyst, Marianne Kris? When she died in 1980, Vienna-born Kris, a close friend of Sigmund Freud’s daughter Anna, left her share of the estate to London’s Anna Freud Centre for children with emotional needs. In 1990 Anna Strasberg went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to acquire that quarter of Monroe’s legacy. Insiders claim the centre recently experienced a shortfall
in its funding, and statements filed at Companies House record that ‘the centre’s share of royalty income… was allocated to uphold and protect the [estate’s] Rights of Publicity. This licensing income is… expected to reduce significantly in the next several years so the centre is committed to diversifying its source of income to replace these revenue incomes.’ The centre declined to discuss the case or provide a formal statement, suggesting a determination to keep details of current legal negotiations, possibly with Strasberg and ABG, under wraps.”