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$4.6 million buys EBay bidder eternity with Marilyn Monroe

MARILYN Marilyn Monroe, who's been dead 47 years, still carries enough cachet that the crypt above where she was entombed was sold today on EBay for $4,602,100.

Elsie Poncher, whose husband Richard Poncher is buried in the crypt at Pierce Bros. Westwood Village Memorial Park, said she wanted to sell it to pay off the mortgage on her Beverly Hills home.

If the winning bid turns out to be legitimate, she will be able to do a lot more than that.

The bidding started at $500,000 on Aug. 14 and escalated to $1 million two days later. There were 21 bids.

Richard Poncher, a businessman who owned a number of companies, died 23 years ago at age 81. According to Elsie, Richard Poncher bought the crypt from New York Yankee great Joe DiMaggio when he was in the midst of his divorce from the blond sex symbol in 1954.

The couple were at the Regency Hotel in New York when DiMaggio asked her husband, "You want to buy two crypts?"

Richard Poncher bought the one above Monroe, where he is -- for the moment -- entombed, and one next to it, where his widow is supposed to spend eternity.

“To the man who gave us everything and more," says the plaque on Richard Poncher’s crypt.

Elsie Poncher plans to move her husband’s remains to the crypt designated for her, and when the time comes, she’ll be cremated.

She said that when her husband was dying, he made a request. "He said, ’If I croak, if you don’t put me upside down over Marilyn, I’ll haunt you the rest of my life.’ "

Right after the funeral, Elsie said, she conveyed her husband’s wish to the funeral director. "I was standing right there, and he turned him over," she said.

The cemetery, which is hidden away off Glendon Avenue, is the final resting spot for many celebrities, among them Natalie Wood, Dean Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Merv Griffin, Mel Torme, Truman Capote and -- most recently -- Farrah Fawcett.

Playboy’s Hugh Hefner bought the crypt next to Monroe’s in 1992 for $75,000. There is an empty crypt in the Corridor of Memories mausoleum where Monroe and Richard Poncher are entombed that the cemetery is selling for $250,000.

Steve Miller, the mortgage broker and banker who is representing Elsie Poncher, said some of the e-mails he has received have been on the bizarre side.

“I get comments from people thinking [Richard Poncher’s] rising from the dead,” Miller said. “You can’t believe the stuff I’m getting here.”

-- Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Elsie Poncher blows a kiss at her husband's crypt in Pierce Bros. Westwood Village Memorial Park. Proceeds from the crypt's sale will help pay off her mortgage. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (8)

How a nondescript cemetery between a neighborhood of single family homes and a large movie theater on Wilshire Blvd became a prestige address for the dead is a real mystery.

My best guesses are that Marilyn was the first celeb there, since most of the others were buried after her, and so they followed her lead. Also that Joe DiMaggio selected that site because it was sort of hidden and, at the time, unknown. Rest in peace, etc.

Looks like that place is becoming LA's version of Arlington.

Hard to comment on such private matters. Obviously this is not in keeping with his wishes. Those closest are better judges whether this would be acceptible to the deceased.

In general I find it despicable when old cemeteries fall victim to real estate market forces. (Cavalry downtown, Savannah in El Monte and others. People involved in these activities should have no expectation of having a final resting place.

This seems like the ultimate celebrity chasing obscenity. Most cemeteries do not let you sell gravesites for a profit over what you paid for them. So some perv is going to use Marilyn Monroe even in death? Good God.

I can't imagine anything more totally disgusting than requesting to be buried face-down above Marilyn Monroe. How could you ask your wife to do that? It's just despicable. If I were her I'd sell it too!

@ Half Dozen of Another

Actually Monroe's guardian, Grace Goddard (whom Monroe buried), and Grace's aunt were buried there, which is why DiMaggio chose it. The woman's story that her poor hubby bought the crypts from DiMaggio after Monroe divorced him is bogus!

Since the auction didn't require a down payment, I bet she won't get a dime! Hahaha! She just did this to get her 15 minutes!

True depravity and financial necrophilia. Whats' next? Lipstick laced with her ashes?

What a hoot! A great way to take the stigma out of death. This is without a doubt, after life humor! Good for you Elsie!

the ballad of Richard Poncher


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