Kim Kardashian wore yet another historic Marilyn Monroe dress the night of the Met Gala

Marilyn Monroe in a long black evening gown holds a Golden Globe onstage.
Marilyn Monroe attends the 1962 Golden Globe Awards, where she won the Henrietta award, at the Beverly Hilton.
(Earl Leaf / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images)

On Friday, beauty mogul and reality TV star Kim Kardashian posted on Instagram that she wore yet another historic Marilyn Monroe gown out in public, this time to a private celebration after Monday’s Met Gala.

“To top off my night after The Met,” she wrote, “I had the honor of changing into Marilyn Monroe’s Norman Norell dress that she wore to the Golden Globes in 1962 — where she received the Henrietta Award For World Film Favorite.”

Kardashian generated a storm of controversy for wearing Monroe’s iconic Jean Louis gown during the red-carpet portion of the Met Gala earlier this week. Monroe famously sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in the dress 60 years ago; the delicate, hand-beaded garment is considered a piece of cultural history.


Textile conservators and fashion curators were outraged over the incident, seeing as exposure to light and oxygen, not to mention perspiration and body movement, stand to permanently damage the gown. Kardashian had borrowed the Jean Louis gown from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Orlando, Fla. The dress is believed to be valued at more than $10 million.

Kardashian wore Monroe’s Norell dress — which Heritage Auctions describes as an “emerald green jersey fabric adorned with matching sequins” and estimates is valued at more than $2 million — to a private celebration with family and friends before returning to Los Angeles. She did not have the dress altered, but she wore it slightly differently than Monroe did. Monroe let the straps hang loosely in front, whereas Kardashian put her arms through the armholes.

Conservators and fashion historians were baffled when Kim Kardashian wore Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’ gown to the 2022 Met Gala.

May 3, 2022

Heritage says that Kardashian approached its luxury accessories team about wearing the Norell gown, and they subsequently sourced the dress for her from its owner, Barbara Zweig in South Florida. (Kardashian incorrectly said on Instagram that Heritage owns the dress. It does not.) Kardashian did not pay to wear the dress. She “was happy to” make a charitable donation to a South Florida animal sanctuary, Heritage says. Kardashian’s team wouldn’t confirm the donation.

Heritage has sold several Monroe garments in the past and says not every one of them, even those with historical significance, should be preserved as museum objects.

Last year, Heritage sold the olive green and black outfit Monroe wore in the 1956 movie “Bus Stop” for $399,000 to an unnamed buyer. Madonna wore the outfit for a Vanity Fair photo shoot in 1991. The outfit was owned at the time by the collector Gene London, who loaned it for the magazine shoot.

The “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” gown, says Heritage Chief Strategy Officer Joshua Benesh, is “well known to be very fragile because of its construction.” But the Norell dress, he says, is not as fragile. The jersey material makes it far more resilient.


“In this case, collecting and utilizing and wearing a piece of vintage couture, including those with historic significance, is a way of continuing to revitalize these garments and celebrate their designers and their history,” he says. “We’re thrilled to see this piece continue to dazzle as a work of art and design.”

Kevin Jones, curator of the FIDM Museum, however, called Kardashian wearing the Norell dress “one of those sticky situations.”

“Private individuals who own historic objects can do whatever they want with them — they can cut them up and turn them into pillows if they want to,” Jones says. “But the problem is in the long run — which is what museums are here for, not short-term self-gratification — museums need to protect objects from the past for people who come after us. So they get to learn, enjoy and be inspired by them. It’s integral for the future.”

In her Instagram post, Kardashian said she felt that wearing the dress was meant to be: She describes how, in her quest to find the “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” Jean Louis gown, she’d not only come across Heritage Auctions but also learned that — go figure — the owner of Monroe’s 1962 Golden Globe was a friend, the floral designer Jeff Leatham, she says.

“I saw this all as a sign the way that all of the stars aligned. It will forever be one of the greatest privileges of my life to be able to channel my inner Marilyn in this way, on such a special night.”