5 minutes with... the man with the world's largest Marilyn Monroe collection



2016-04-20 11:51:36

Seven more months...

For seven more months, David Gainsborough-Roberts is the owner of the world's largest and most prestigious private collection of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia.

But that all changes on the evening of November 19.

Because on that date, the 72-year-old British collector is selling every piece of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia he owns. From the sequinned dress Monroe wore in Some Like It Hot (pictured above - estimate: $400,000) to her prescription pill bottles, it's all going under the hammer at Julien's Auctions in California. 

David Gainsborough-Roberts:

David Gainsborough-Roberts: "Marilyn's iconic appeal will never be equalled"

"It is now time for me to share this with the world," explains the former wrestling promoter.

David, and Julien's Auctions' executive director, Martin Nolan, kindly took the time to chat to JustCollecting earlier this week. 

JustCollecting: What was the first item of Monroe memorabilia you bought - what got you hooked?

David Gainsborough-Roberts: My first costume was from Bus Stop, which I bought from Christie's in 1988. It was being modelled by Pauline Bailey, the then Marilyn look-a-like. I was completely captivated by an extraordinary, almost feverish aura which had settled over a packed auction room, with press photographers and flashing cameras everywhere. I just kept putting up my hand. From then on I was hooked by Marilyn!   

Are you expecting to make a profit on the costumes?

DGR: I started collecting Marilyn memorabilia many years ago. Marilyn is arguably the most iconic name in show business, her popularity seems to have no bounds. As such, I think it is inevitable that values will continue to rise for many years to come. 


Marilyn's Bus Stop costume has a $100,000 estimate

What's your favourite Monroe performance?

DGR: I think it must be Some Like It Hot. The scene where she appears sitting on the piano is so iconic, wearing one of my favourite dresses. It was so tight that she had to be lifted on to the piano.

Do you think any of today's stars will have the iconic appeal of Monroe in years to come, or is that type of lasting fame a thing of the past?

DGR: Marilyn’s success was borne out of the 1950s and swinging 60s, a period in time unlikely to be repeated. For me, Marilyn’s iconic appeal will never be equalled.

How will you feel as you see your collection go off to new homes?

DGR: I have loved Marilyn for many years and I will always keep a special place for her. Yes, I shall be sad to see her go but I will have great pleasure in sharing her with the rest of the world and keeping my emotions to myself.

Will you replace it with anything? 

DGR: I am a born collector and historian, I have a number of other important collections but there could never be another Marilyn. 


Julien's Auctions' Martin Nolan (top right): "Marilyn generates more buzz than any other Hollywood star"

Does Marilyn create the most buzz at your auctions, Martin?

Martin Nolan: Absolutely. Marilyn Monroe is certainly the blue chip in the collectible arena. She generates more buzz than any other Hollywood star.

Can you see any of the costumes getting close to the $5.6 million achieved by Marilyn's Seven Year Itch dress in 2011?

MN: The dress that Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang Happy Birthday Mr President [not selling in the auction] is likely to sell for more than the Seven Year Itch dress.

The cocktail dress worn by Marilyn while she sang “I’m through with Love” sitting on the piano in Some Like It Hot is likely to be one of the most sought after dresses in our upcoming auction.

Have you had any interest from prospective buyers?

MN: We have had huge interest from museums such as the Museum of Style Icons in Ireland and the Museo de la Moda in Chile, but also collectors and businesses such as Cunard's Queen Mary 2 cruise ship and the Design Centre in Chelsea, London [both are exhibiting costumes from the auction this summer].

Numerous TV shows worldwide have asked to showcase these iconic items - reflecting the insatiable appetite for Marilyn, as her global fans celebrate what would have been her 90th birthday on June 1, 2016.

David Gainsborough-Roberts' Marilyn Monroe collection sells at Julien's Auctions in Los Angeles, California on November 19, 2016. 

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