Celebrate Her 90th Birthday with the Top 10 Marilyn Monroe Collectibles
Marilyn Monroe is widely considered to be Hollywood's most iconic starlet. The embodiment of sex appeal during the 1950s and '60s, her tragic, and somewhat conspiracy-laden death, further immortalized her as a pop culture legend. As such, Marilyn Monroe collectibles and memorabilia are always in demand and routinely see significant returns.
A high-profile relationship with the Kennedy family and a short-lived marriage to Joe DiMaggio only added to her fame as America's most identifiable sex symbol. Monroe's filmography includes appearances in over ten feature films. She earned critical acclaim and award nominations for her role in the 1956 film Bust Stop. However, it was her sultry roles in movies like Some Like it Hot, The Seven Year Itch, and Gentleman Prefer Blondes that truly showcased her star power and appeal.
Renewed fascination with American pop culture, particularly overseas, has caused the value of Marlyn Monroe memorabilia to skyrocket in recent years. This combined with a finite supply of authentic collectibles has led to a surge in prices and demand
Marilyn Monroe collectibles run the gambit from personal items, autographed material and movie memorabilia to photographs, limited-edition collectibles, trading cards and more. Given her popularity, that tends to result in plenty of low quality reproductions and outright fakes, so do your research. Despite this, a huge market exists for Marilyn Monroe collectors, with plenty of quality options. The guide below looks at the ten most popular categories of Marilyn Monroe collectibles.
Top 10 Marilyn Monroe Collectibles
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Jewelry and wardrobe that Marilyn Monroe wore on screen can fetch astronomical sums at auction. It is not uncommon for such pieces to reach five and even six figures when they come up for sale. Often times in the collecting world, items become collectible long after their originally intended use has expired. This was not the case with Marilyn Monroe. People she worked with, from costume designers, wardrobe directors and prop masters knew she was something special. As a result, many of her movie-worn or used props and wardrobe pieces have survived.
Hand-written letters by Marilyn Monroe or any correspondence related to her movie and modeling career carry a significant premium over other types of Monroe-signed items. Fans and collectors with deep pockets are willing to pay for items that document Monroe's private and personal life. Studio contracts and love letters written to Joe DiMaggio are some of the most desirable Marilyn Monroe autographed items.
Marilyn Monroe autographed photographs are very popular and have have strong crossover appeal as well. Like many things, the subject matter of the photograph has a considerable influence on the item's value. For example, signed pictures of Monroe from her famous subway grate scene in The Seven Year Itch are extremely rare and command significant amounts as they seldom make their way to the secondary market. Instead, the iconic pictures are most often found as framed pieces with a cut signature.
Just about any authentic Marilyn Monroe autograph carries a value of four figures. Some of the most commonly seen examples are from autograph album pages, checks and index cards. Other examples of her signature that see high demand are those with her given name, Norma Jean Mortenson, as well as those signed as "Marilyn DiMaggio," due to their extreme rarity.
The 1960s provided the perfect timing for one of the country's most popular artists, Andy Warhol, to use America's sex symbol as his muse. Warhol created a series of paintings and silk screens capturing Monroe's beauty with a color pallet specifically unique to Warhol's style and work. Original versions can sell for five figures. Even limited edition prints can fetch more than a thousand dollars.
Original movie posters from Monroe's most popular movies are quite collectible. As is the case with many of her memorabilia items, Monroe's crossover appeal attracts a diverse range of collectors and movie posters already have a devoted base. As a result, when Marilyn Monroe movie posters come on the market, they see demand from multiple types of collectors and not just those strictly limited to collecting the starlet. Condition is the most important factor in determining the value of original Marilyn Monroe movie posters. The difference between good and mint condition can ultimately be thousands of dollars.
Items that combine a vintage and/or iconic photographs of Marilyn Monroe with an authentic cut signature are highly desirable pieces of memorabilia. However, even pieces not accompanied by an autograph can still sell for several hundred dollars. The price of these items is determined by subject matter and overall aesthetic value.
Hugh Hefner, founder of the popular men's magazine Playboy, knew what he was doing when he put Marilyn Monroe on the cover (and inside) of the debut issue. Today, that copy from 1953 is one of the most valuable magazines in the world. Highly susceptible to condition issues, graded examples can sell for several thousand dollars.
In what would be her last photo shoot, famed photographer Bert Stern captured images of Monroe in her most raw and vulnerable state. The collection of photographs were compiled in a limited edition book, which can sell for hundreds of dollars depending on the edition. Original photographs, photographer worksheets, negatives and art inspired by the originals are also wildly popular. It was the last the world would ever see of America's greatest sex symbol.
Before she was Marilyn, she was Norma Jean, an aspiring model. Original photographs taken before her stardom document a simpler and more innocent time. Many Marilyn Monroe memorabilia collectors like to bookend her career with early, original photographs and those from the "The Last Sitting." The contrast in images documents the story of her rise to stardom and its tragic fall.