The auction of Debbie Reynold’s Hollywood costumes and memorabilia collection raised 22.8 million last weekend. Included in this amazing collection was Marilyn Monroe’s famous “subway grate” dress designed by William Travilla. Worn in the movie the Seven Year Itch, it fetched a record breaking 4.6 million, far surpassing the pre-sale estimates of $1 to $2 million dollars. Apparently Debbie Reynolds purchased the dress for 200.o0 when the MGM Studio went out of business back in the 1970s.
Among other noteworthy sales from this auction were Marilyn’s red sequined gown worn in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” ( 1.2 million, with a pre sale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000), the Ascot Dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady” ($4.4 million) and Judy Garland’s blue dress and ruby slippers worn for the screen test of the “Wizard of Oz” (1.4 million) . BTW, none of these prices included the buyer’s premium or taxes. According to the many stories about this auction, it seems many of the pieces went to buyers from Saudi Arabia and Japan.
Debbie’s dream was to have a museum for her treasures, which consist of over 3500 costumes along with photographs, costume sketches, posters and props. But, unfortunately, due to financial difficulties, she has to auction it all off instead. Is it just me, or are there others who think it’s kind of sad that many of these iconic pieces ended up with buyers from other countries? Seems to me a collection of this calibre is such an important part of US culture and history, that it belongs here where Americans can enjoy and appreciate it. It is our loss that her dream of a museum for this impressive collection never came true.
But this auction is only the first in a series to liquidate her massive collection. The next one will be held in December 2011.