Marilyn Magazine Mania in Europe

This photo by George Barris, taken in July 1962 – often said to be the last professional photo of Marilyn – graces the cover of Polish magazine Zwierciadlo this month.

In Hungary, Marilyn (as photographed by Alfred Eisenstadt in 1953) makes the cover of July’s Meglepetes Retro, while a Sam Shaw photo covered another Hungarian magazine in June.

As well as the recent New Literary Magazine, Marilyn graced another French magazine cover in June.

And finally, Marilyn (and her favourite singer, Ella Fitzgerald) covered a Romanian magazine in May.

‘Cold War’ Star Inspired by Marilyn

In Cold War, the new film from Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski, Joanna Kulig plays Zula, a folk singer who begins a doomed love affair with a pianist in the aftermath of World War II. In an interview for The Guardian, Joanna reveals the inspirations behind her acclaimed performance.

“In Cold War, the narrative is fragmented, the actors more than unusually responsible for the film’s emotional continuity as the action leaps forward several years at a time. ‘With each instalment she is different: sometimes she’s a street urchin and bad girl, sometimes she’s melancholy and then she can be sarcastic with dry wit,’ Pawlikowski says. ‘Joanna has wit but she’s not sarcastic, she’s got a very kind disposition. It was a huge challenge and it didn’t come easily, but I knew she had all these different colours in her.’

Indeed, Cold War requires a dizzying range of emotions to play across that mutable face, which can switch from blunt and defiant one moment to pinched and wounded the next. Kulig is a fine-grained actor, never more so than in those instances when she is conveying layers of contradictory feelings from beneath a showbiz veneer. One scene in particular, in which she must register from the stage her recognition of a familiar face in the audience, and then, after the interval, react to the shock of the now-vacated seat, all while persevering cheerfully with her musical number, is an unbeatable example of the performer as plate-spinner or high-wire walker.

What is she thinking of when she sings? ‘It depends,’ she says. ‘Sometimes I thought about Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller, how theirs was maybe a similar relationship. Or it helped to think about Amy Winehouse and her personality. I feel Zula has something of that: she is so nice and talented but at the same time she wants to destroy something.’ Whatever the situation, Kulig feels at her most charged when she is singing. ‘The emotions are closer to the surface. It is all there. Agata Trzebuchowska, who played Ida, told me: “Joanna, I love your acting, but you act the most wonderfully when you are singing.”‘”

Marilyn’s ‘Bus Stop’ Exhibit in Poland

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Over forty photographs taken by Milton Greene during filming of Bus Stop in 1956 are currently on display until March 24 at the Dom Miedziorytnika in Wrocław, marking the city’s year as a European Capital of Culture.  The exhibition includes several rare shots, and is drawn from the Greene archive which was donated to Poland by an American businessman as a partial debt repayment.  Andrzej Owczarek took photos at the exhibition for Radio Poland, and you can watch news footage of the event here.

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Greene Exhibit in Wroclaw, Poland

An archive of lost outtakes by Milton Greene will be on display in the Polish city of Wroclaw this summer, Reuters reports. (For the backstory, read our previous posts here.)

“The western Polish city successfully bid for the pictures at an auction last year for 6.4 million zloty ($1.69 million) according to local media, and the collection is likely to become a major attraction to Wroclaw, which is due to be one of two European capitals of culture in 2016.

It is made up of more than 3,000 prints and also includes pictures of other actresses such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich.

A preview of 47 pictures of Monroe, including ‘Ballerina Sitting’, was unveiled to art and photograph critics on Tuesday while the exhibition, entitled ‘Good Day, Marilyn’, opens to the public in July.

Poland obtained the pictures as part of a settlement in an embezzlement case involving a U.S. businessman in the 1990s. A first batch of pictures of Monroe was auctioned in 2012.”

Marilyn’s New Polish Home

Last month, ES Updates reported on the Polish auction of Milton Greene’s photos. Today, StandArt News reports that the archive will be the centrepiece of a new national museum of photography, opening in Wroclaw in 2016.

“On 25 June 2014, more than 3,000 celebrity photographs – many of Marilyn Monroe and some of them never before seen – were auctioned off at the Warsaw auction house DESA Unicum. A selection of the collection will be put on display as early as September in Wroclaw’s Unesco-inscribed Centennial Hall. Selections from the full collection will be the centrepiece of Poland’s first photography museum, set to open in Wroclaw in 2016, the same year that Wroclaw will be one of three European Capitals of Culture, BBC reports.

How these photographs came to wind up in Poland’s hands, never mind Wroclaw’s, is a story with as many twists and turns as Monroe’s life itself…

All parties had agreed with the culture minister of Poland, however, that any buyer had to keep the collection in Poland – and put it on public display.

At the end, just three bidders were on the short list – all of them all cities: Gdansk, Krakow and Wroclaw. Wroclaw, the fourth-largest city in Poland, won the photographs for 6.4 million zlotys, a record bid for any individual lot sold at a Polish auction.”

Greene Photo Auction in Poland

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.'”

Greene Photos Displayed in Warsaw

A controversial vault of photos by Milton Greene is now on display at Warsaw’s Gallery of the Association of Polish Artistic Photographers, reports the Associated Press. (The archive was given to the Polish government by a Chicago businessman as partial repayment during an embezzlement scandal.)

The collection, including photos of Marilyn, is set to be auctioned later this year, with an estimated starting price of $680,000.

Greene Photos in Poland

Thousands of photos taken by the late, great Milton H. Greene – including rare pictures of Marilyn – have surfaced in Poland, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“The photos ended up in Poland’s possession as the result of a complex embezzlement scandal that shook the country in the early 1990s. A Chicago businessman accused of cheating Poland out of millions of dollars gave the collection to Poland in partial repayment for the government’s loss.

They have been stored in a New York warehouse for years and only arrived in Warsaw recently.

The Polish official in charge of cleaning up the lingering mess from the corruption affair, Marta Maciazek, said the photographic collection is valued at $680,000. She said some of the photos will go on exhibition soon and then will be put up for sale.”