Gotta Have It Collectibles Offers Marilyn Monroe’s 1954 Wedding Suit…Or Is It?

Just announced today on the TMZ website:

MARILYN MONROE: HER SUIT FROM JOE DIMAGGIO WEDDING
Going, Going … Up for Sale!!!

Link here.

The article reads,The two-piece wedding suit Marilyn Monroe wore for her marriage to Joe DiMaggio is hitting the auction block … and it’s expected to fetch seven figures.

Marilyn’s ‘fit from the January 1954 wedding to the New York Yankees star will be offered to the public through Gotta Have Rock and Roll, and although it’s one of her more conservative looks … folks at the auction house think the winning bid will be spectacular — somewhere between $1.5 and $2 million!

The historic clothing is a two-piece dark brown Serge wedding suit, with a white fur collar on the jacket. Marilyn and Joe’s wedding was a huge event back in the day … and there are tons of photos and videos of them kissing while she’s in the wedding suit.

And, here’s a fun fact: glamorous Marilyn totally went mainstream for her big day!

Gotta Have Rock and Roll says she originally bought the suit at Macy’s, and it was later gifted to the mother-in-law of her personal photog, Milton Greene.

Bidding opens today and the auction runs through Dec. 9.

 

The listing on Gotta Have It Collectibles is here. It reads as follows:

On January 14, 1954 the iconic movie star Marilyn Monroe wed the Yankees superstar athlete Joe DiMaggio. This was the most important wedding in Pop Culture history. Never before has there been a wedding of this stature of two iconic figures that were the leaders in their fields. This iconic moment was captured in hundreds of photographs and video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZd7dD-HOyE. Gotta Have Rock and Roll is proud to auction the two-piece suit Marilyn Monroe wore at this historic wedding.

Marilyn’s wedding suit is a two-piece dark brown serge wedding suit, with a white fur collar on the jacket. The measurements are as follows: Jacket: shoulder to cuff 20”, shoulder to waist 19”. Skirt: waist measures 27”, waist to hem 25” The jacket has been shortened from the original length by a few inches. A tailor would be able to put the jacket back to its original length. Very good condition. Comes with original Sotheby’s auction catalog and a Gotta Have Rock & Roll Certificate of Authenticity.

Provenance: Originally the property of Marilyn Monroe purchased at Macy’s department store. Gifted to the mother-in-law of Milton Greene. Milton Greene was a personal photographer to Marilyn Monroe.

Sotheby’s September 30, 1990 “Cocktails” Auction

Below are scans of the Sotheby’s “Cocktails” auction catalog, showing this suit and also the lot description. Note that there is no mention of the suit having been altered.

The history of Marilyn Monroe’s suit:

It’s been reported that Marilyn purchased the suit “last minute” from either Joseph Magnin’s or Macy’s just prior to her wedding to Joe DiMaggio. This story first appeared thanks to writer Alice Hoffman who accompanied Marilyn to San Francisco for the ceremony. Hoffman established this myth in a later article published in Modern Screen magazine. Some believe this wasn’t an off-the-rack suit, and that it was designed specifically for Marilyn by Twentieth Century-Fox costume designer Charles Lemaire.

Marilyn wore the suit at least two other times, once before her wedding to DiMaggio, and once after:

November of 1953, when she meet the King and Queen of Greece on the Fox lot:

February of 1954, when she and Joe were returning from Japan at the end of their honeymoon. Note in the photos below the absence of a white fur collar on the suit. 

Charles LeMaire did design several other outfits for Marilyn, and even film costumes, including All About Eve.

Is it the same suit?

A big issue of concern revolves around a label sewn inside the suit currently up for auction that reads, “National Recovery Board, Coat and Suit Industry,” and “Consumers Protection Label, Manufactured under the Fair Labor Standards Act.” See screenshots below from the auction website:

And of course, there are significant differences in the garments themselves:

  1. The buttons on the suit in these images are different.
  2. The suit being offered has six buttons from collar to waist. The suit Marilyn wore when she married Joe DiMaggio in San Francisco on January 14, 1954 had more than six buttons.
  3. The collar on these two suits is different (note the corners).
  4. The suit Marilyn wore had a fabric embellishment tied at the collar. The suit offered by Gotta Have It Collectibles does not.
  5. Marilyn’s wedding suit appears to be a reflective, shiney material. The suit up for auction appears to be flat, and lacking the same luster.

Gotta Have It explains away some of these differences by saying the jacket has been altered from its original design. The lot description on the Gotta Have It website reads: “The jacket has been shortened from the original length by a few inches. A tailor would be able to put the jacket back to its original length. Very good condition.”

The questions needing answers are these:

  1. Why would a two-piece suit designed for Marilyn Monroe by Twentieth Century-Fox costume designer Charles LeMaire have a “Consumer Protections Act” label sewn inside?
  2. Why does the jacket up for auction have a fur collar sewn onto it, when the last time Marilyn wore it in 1954 there was no collar? Yes, the collar could have been returned to the jacket, but again, note the differences in the collar on the jacket up for auction and the collar Marilyn wore.
  3. Why doesn’t the lot description from the 1999 Sotheby’s auction indicate the garment was altered? In fact, the significant differences in the two suits isn’t even mentioned.
  4. The Gotta Have It auction description for the suit references a copy of the 1999 Sotheby’s catalog is included but there is no mention of the original sales receipt from that auction.

It’s possible this may actually be the suit Marilyn wore when she married Joe DiMaggio in January of 1954, but there are enough questions needing answers and some significant differences in appearance that it’s reasonable to have doubts.


UPDATE:

Had a quick text chat with Joshua Greene today. He spoke to his mom Amy and clarified the following:

1.  Amy recalls that Marilyn told her she purchased the suit at I. Magnin in Los Angeles. It was not purchased in San Francisco. It was not designed by Charles LEMaire. This would explain the label in the suit. 

2. Marilyn did offer the suit to Amy. Amy gave it to her mother, Nina, who did alter the garment. She was shorter than Marilyn and not as thin. Nina wore it to church and other events for years. Amy believes both the skirt and the jacket were altered. 

3.  The garment was auctioned by the Greene family at Sotheby’s in 1999. 

As long as this is the same suit that was auctioned at Sotheby’s in 1999 then it’s likely the same suit Marilyn wore when she married DiMaggio. Either way, it’s significantly altered, the buttons aren’t original, and it was worn many times by Amy’s mother.