Julien’s Auctions Hires Scott Fortner to Appraise David Gainsborough-Roberts Collection of Historic Marilyn Monroe Costumes and Artifacts

Julien’s Auctions, the auction house to the stars, will be auctioning the David Gainsborough-Roberts Marilyn Monroe collection in November of 2016.

When Julien’s Auctions President and CEO Darren Julien contacted me about authenticating, appraising, and cataloging this collection for the sale I enthusiastically accepted.  Like Marilyn herself, the Gainsborough-Roberts collection can be described in one word:  Iconic.  This extensive archive offers the rare and unique combination of Marilyn the movie star and Marilyn the private woman.  It’s one of the largest private Monroe collections in the world today, consisting of film costumes, publicity gowns, personal clothing, jewelry, and items from Marilyn’s everyday life.

The Marilyn Monroe fan base has never seen a private collection of this importance and range come up for auction.  Of greatest significance in the collection is the dress Marilyn wore as she sang “I’m Through With Love” in “Some Like It Hot.” Marilyn won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Sugar Kane in the film, and Orry-Kelley took home the Oscar for best costume design.  To my knowledge, only two original costumes from this film exist today.  Will we see a new world record set for a Marilyn Monroe costume?


Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane, “Some Like It Hot,” 1959.

All totaled, costumes and accessories from nine of Marilyn’s films will be represented in this sale:

  • 1953: ”Niagara”
  • 1953: ”Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”
  • 1953: ”How to Marry a Millionaire”
  • 1954: ”There’s No Business Like Show Business”
  • 1955: ”The Seven Year Itch”
  • 1956: ”Bus Stop”
  • 1957: ”The Prince and the Showgirl”
  • 1959: ”Some Like It Hot”
  • 1960: ”Let’s Make Love”

Items offered from Marilyn’s personal wardrobe include the spaghetti strap evening gown she wore to the 1955 premiere of ”The Rose Tattoo,” and a Ceil Chapman dress (one of Marilyn’s favorite designers). Among jewelry items being offered are the rhinestone waterfall earrings Marilyn wore to the June 1, 1955 premiere of ”The Seven Year Itch.”

 Marilyn at The Rose Tattoo premiere.

Marilyn at The Rose Tattoo premiere.

As part of his collecting endeavors, David established relationships with other collectors, fans, and even people in Marilyn’s inner circle, most notably Ralph Roberts, Marilyn’s masseur. One of the greatest thrills for me in working on this project was reviewing the handwritten letters Ralph sent to David, and reading first hand about his personal experiences with Marilyn.

For the full press release on the David Gainsborough-Roberts auction at Julien’s Auctions, click here.

If you’re curious about the volume of research and detail required to authenticate, appraise and catalog a collection of this caliber for auction, check out the photos of my study below.

I’ll be posting regular updates about items from David’s collection that are coming up for auction, so watch this space!