If paying more than a couple of hundred dollars for a dress seems a little extravagant, how would you feel about shelling out a few million? A private collector paid a whopping $5,520,000 (that sum included $4.6 million for the garment plus fees, including a fee to the auction house) for the "subway dress" worn by Marilyn Monroe in the film “The Seven Year Itch." It was purchased during the first part of actress Debbie Reynolds' auction of her private collection of Hollywood costumes and memorabilia on Saturday.
The auction, which took place at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, broke world records with its total of $22.8 million in sales.
The collection, which Reynolds had been amassing for 40 years, featured the iconic Monroe dress designed by William Travilla. It broke the Guinness record for the priciest film costume ever sold. The record was previously held by the little black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," which sold for $923,187 in 2006.
Among other top sellers, including auction fees, were Judy Garland’s "Wizard of Oz" blue cotton test dress, which sold for $1,092,000; the Ascot dress Hepburn wore in "My Fair Lady," which went for $4,440,000; and Julie Andrews' "Do-Re-Mi" dress from "The Sound of Music," which sold for $660,000.
Other auction highlights included (fees included in totals):
Rudolph Valentino's suit of lights from "Blood and Sand": $252,000
Charlie Chaplin's tramp bowler hat: $132,000
Garland's "Wizard of Oz" ruby test slippers: $612,000
Elizabeth Taylor's "Cleopatra" headdress: $120,000
Richard Burton's tunic and cape from "Cleopatra": $102,000
Grace Kelly's scenic drive dress from "To Catch a Thief": $540,000
Charlton Heston's tunic from "Ben Hur": $384,000
Barbra Streisand's gold velvet dress from "Hello Dolly": $120,000
The auction was held by the historical memorabilia dealer Profiles in History, run by Joe Maddalena. The remainder of Reynolds’ collection will go up for auction Dec. 3 and will include the green dress worn by Monroe in the film "Bus Stop."
-- Jenn Harris
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Photo: Marilyn Monroe, left, in the "subway" dress from "The Seven Year Itch"; Audrey Hepburn's Ascot dress from "My Fair Lady." Credits: Matty Zimmerman / Associated Press; Reuters