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Thursday, October 28, 1999 Published at 06:00 GMT 07:00 UK

World: Americas

Marilyn's million dollar dress

A dress from the film "Some like it hot" also went under the hammer

In New York the sale of a dress that screen legend, Marilyn Monroe, wore when she breathlessly sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy in 1962 has broken records by fetching more than $1m at an auction.

BBC News' George Eykyn: "The Monroe dress is part of history"
The flesh-coloured dress, so tight she had to be sewn into it, had been expected to attract the highest bid when it went under the hammer at the end of the first session of a two-day auction at Christie's of her personal belongings - and it did.

It originally cost $12,000, and the final bid of $1,267,500 easily broke the previous record for a dress sale at an auction which had been the $225,000 paid for an ink blue, Princess Diana gown that was sold two years ago.

Monroe left all her belongings to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg. His widow, Anna, is selling the items off, with some proceeds going to charity.

The dress, which has become a part of 20th Century American history, was worn by the glamorous star just three months before she died as she serenaded a young president who was later assassinated.


[ image: Hand-sewn with 6,000 beads]
Hand-sewn with 6,000 beads
It was sold to New York dealers, Gotta Have It! Collectibles.

Company co-owner Robert Schargin said afterwards he thought it was worth $3m.

"We really got the bargain of the century," he said. Other big sales included a wedding ring that went for three $750,000 that was given to Monroe by her second husband, the American baseball legend, Joe DiMaggio.

A white, baby grand piano that once belonged to the star's mother fetched more than $600,000.

The bidding at the auction was intense and a host of other items of clothing, scripts and books owned by Monroe sold for amounts far higher than had been estimated.

Christies has been doing all it can to promote the sale, calling it the last and most lavish celebrity auction of the millennium.

The sale will continue on Wednesday when less glamorous objects, such as a cheese grater and used colander that belonged to Monroe go on the block.

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