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Friday, 23 February, 2001, 10:34 GMT
Row over Monroe photos
Marilyn Monroe
The photos appeared in the first ever Playboy
The estate of Marilyn Monroe is attempting to block the commercial use of nude photos of the actress, due to be auctioned next month.

The pictures are expected to cause a stir in their own right, but it is Monroe's signature on a standard model release form that is causing the row.


Kelley can sell the photographs of Marilyn Monroe if he wants, but that is all he is selling

Spokesman for CMG Worldwide Inc

Monroe's estate disputes that this signature still gives over the right to manipulate and use the images for commercial use.

But Tom Kelley Jr, whose father took the photographs, insists that by signing the form she gave over all commercial rights, which could prove very lucrative.

"There's still a very strong interest in Marilyn Monroe, for fan clubs, celebrity endorsements, and it is not going to get any smaller," said Kelley Jr.

'Minimal value'

CMG Worldwide Inc, which represents the Monroe estate, is planning legal action to prevent commercial use of the pictures.

Marilyn Monroe
Monroe in Josh Logan's 1956 film Bus Stop
A spokesman for the company said: "Kelley can sell the photographs of Marilyn Monroe if he wants, but that is all he is selling."

"There are tens of thousands of original photographs of Marilyn Monroe out there and we just think an eight by 10 inch transparency has minimal value."

Monroe left her name and image to her acting coach Lee Strasberg and a psychiatric institute in London.

Strasberg's widow and the Anna Freud centre continue to hold these rights and are represented by CMG, which also acts as the business agent for Italian screen legend Sophia Loren.

Marilyn Monroe with Joe DiMaggio
Monroe married baseball great Joe DiMaggio in 1953
Kelley's own agent, Gary Saal, still maintains that any prospective buyer of the photos, will get to use them as they want.

"Say for the sake of discussion, someone wanted to take the image of Marilyn Monroe and dress her up, turn her into a moving image and have her purchase an airline ticket," he said.

"With the model release form, you are allowed to create derivative images. Moving figures? Absolutely."

Online site eBay is to hold an internet auction alongside a traditional sale at the Butterfields auction house in Los Angeles on 22 March.

They are not speculating as to the value of the so-called Red Velvet photo series, and the accompanying model release form bearing Monroe's loopy signature.

See also:

29 Oct 99 | Entertainment
Marilyn sale tops $13.4m
14 Aug 00 | Americas
Marilyn too hot for Mexicans
17 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Daryl itching to fill Monroe role
27 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Lookalikes under the knife
24 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Monroe named century's 'steamiest siren'
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