Anna Strasberg was not present at the auction of 1,000 of Marilyn Monroe’s personal belongings, so she didn’t hear the gasps and applause when the glittery, formfitting, flesh-colored gown Marilyn had worn when she sang a sultry “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden went for $1.26 million. The dress was purchased by Robert Schagrin, co-owner of the New York shop Gotta Have It!, which specializes in pop-culture memorabilia. “Marilyn Monroe is one of a few international icons who will transcend time,” Schagrin says. “Along with Elvis, Babe Ruth, and the Beatles, she is always a great investment for collectors. She’s just gonna increase in value.”
The dress, among Marilyn’s most famous, is a part of Monroe icon. Unforgettably beautiful, and almost as controversial as Marilyn herself for its suggestion of complete nudity. Naturally that appealed to Marilyn’s sense of naughtiness. When she filmed The Seven Year Itch she joked with her New York housekeeper that “I should do the scene the way I usually dress.” Marilyn was referring to the fact that she never wore underwear. Joe Dimaggio, her husband at the time, would definitely not have agreed.