Marilyn Monroe’s Personal Filing Cabinet
Directly from the estate of Marilyn Monroe: A vintage filing cabinet marked “W.H. Harper Co./ Devon/ El Segundo,” with a metal security rod attached by a padlock. 52 1/4 by 18 by 26 inches
This filing cabinet is one of two that Marilyn Monroe owned. These cabinets, one gray and this tan one, contained nearly five thousand documents, including letters, telegrams, bills, receipts, financial records and cancelled bank checks, cataloging in great detail countless personal and business records and transactions, from childhood until death, for Monroe. They Marilyn’s complete personal archives. All of the invoices, receipts, personal files, financial documents, bank checks and letters to Marilyn Monroe that are currently part of this Marilyn Monroe collection came from these two filing cabinets.
Marilyn purchased the two filing cabinets in 1958 and kept them in the study of her New York apartment. When Marilyn purchased her new home in Brentwood at the end of January, 1962, she had both cabinets shipped to her in California. This tan cabinet was sent to Marilyn’s suite at Twentieth Century Fox, and the gray one was sent to her home on 5th Helena Drive.
After Marilyn’s death in August of 1962, Inez Melson, Marilyn’s former business manager, was appointed administrator of Marilyn’s estate. Melson had this tan file cabinet shipped to her home office. Melson had an estate auction, in which it’s believed she bought the gray cabinet under the name of her nephew, Walter Davis. She kept the cabinets and their contents in her Hollywood Hills home for forty-five years until her death. She passed away in 1986, and she left the cabinets and files to her sister-in-law Ruth Conroy. In 2001 when Ruth passed away the cabinets were left to her son. As Marilyn left her estate to her acting coach Lee Strasberg, these cabinets and their contents were eventually transitioned back to the Marilyn Monroe estate and the Strasberg family.
The filing cabinets and their contents were featured in the book MM-Personal by Lois Banner and Mark Anderson, release in 2011.
Provenance: The Marilyn Monroe Auction at Julien’s Auctions, November 17, 18 & 19, 2016.