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The dress Marilyn Monroe wore to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to JFK sells for $4.81 million at L.A. auction

Monroe dress fetches $4.81 million
The dress worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy was on display at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles.
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

The iconic form-fitting dress worn by Marilyn Monroe as she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy sold Thursday evening for $4.81 million at an auction in Los Angeles.

The dress, created by Hollywood designer Jean Louis, was purchased by Ripley’s Believe It or Not, according to Julien’s Auctions.

Made of silk gauze and covered in thousands of sequins and rhinestone beads, the gown was so tight that Monroe had to be sewn into it before she walked on stage, according to the auction house.

The number originally cost $12,000 and Monroe donned it for a May 19, 1962, fundraiser at Madison Square Garden.

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About three months after her breathless performance — which sparked rumors of an affair between the actress and the president — Monroe was found dead in the bedroom of her Brentwood home. She was 36 and succumbed to an overdose of barbiturates.

The dress had previously sold in 1999 for $1.26 million at an auction in New York.

The sale comes as part of a three-day auction of Monroe’s possessions and keepsakes from her career.

Julien’s Auctions said Monroe’s “Some Like it Hot” cocktail dress sold for $450,000, and a letter to Monroe from Jean Kennedy Smith sold for $28,000.

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matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno

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