When I started my collection in 1988, I had no idea that one day it would become so important. I was bitten by the Marilyn
bug many years before that, but the thought of actually creating a Marilyn collection had never occurred to me. In fact, I never
consciously set out to form a collection; it just seemed to happen. Whenever I would hear that something important was up for
sale, I just had to have it, as if something inside was driving me on.
My first Marilyn piece was from the motion picture
, and I bought it in 1988 in an overcrowded auction room at Christie’s
London. The atmosphere was electric with press everywhere, and the costume was modeled by a Marilyn Monroe impersonator.
Afterwards, she was mobbed by press, and I remember her coming up to me and whispering into my ear, “Try and look as if you
are enjoying yourself,” but all I could think of was, “What have I got myself into?” Little did I know this was just the beginning. It
was then that I began to realize the magnetism of Marilyn.
I think my favorite costume is the sheer-black and nude beaded cocktail dress from the 1959 Billy Wilder comedy
Some Like It Hot
when she sang “I’m Through with Love” seated on a grand piano. The dress was so tight that Marilyn had to be lifted by four men
so as not to split the dress. Another favorite is the full-length red sequin dress, which Jane Russell wore when she sang the opening
song with Marilyn Monroe in
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
. Jane used to tread on the dress, and the sequins had to be sewn back
after each take. I have been gathering them up ever since.
I would like a special word of thanks to my good friend the late Ralph Roberts, who was closer to Marilyn than anyone and the
last person to speak to her, for the many hours spent together talking pure Marilyn, and there are some wonderful stories to tell.
Without Darren Julien, Martin Nolan, Scott Fortner, and their team, there would be no sale. The extraordinary dedication to his
research and painstakingly reading through all my files and correspondence, I owe a big thanks to them and their team. Last but
certainly not least, the amazing Suzie Kennedy, who is pure Marilyn through and through, and for me she keeps the dream alive.
She will be with me every step of the way and ready to wow us all.
The Marilyn costumes in my collection are iconic in the extreme, and owning such a collection does not come without its
responsibilities. It is important to make sure that others can also enjoy them. Over the last few years, many of the costumes have
appeared at a number of different venues, such as the Jersey Museum in the Channel Islands, the American Museum in Bath, the
Imperial War Museum in London, the V&A Museum in London, the Ferragamo in Venice and Florence, the Irish Museum in Belfast,
and the Getty Museum in London. It is now time to hand over to others who want to share my passion, and what better time than
on Marilyn’s 90th birthday. Yes, I will be sad to say goodbye, and I hope the new owners will cherish the items as I have over
the years, but I will always keep a very special place for Marilyn. I am a born collector and historian, and I am very passionate.
Couple that with my feelings for Marilyn, and the result has been a marriage in heaven.
David Gainsborough Roberts