Marilyn Monroe’s heartbreaking letters, belongings to be auctioned

  • AFP, California
  • Updated: May 17, 2016 14:59 IST
A wide-ranging collection of Marilyn Monroe’s personal possessions will begin a worldwide tour before being auctioned later in the year.

In a few weeks, just before what would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday (on June 1), a wide-ranging collection of her personal possessions will begin a worldwide tour before being auctioned later in the year. In addition to leather sandals the iconic actress wore while modelling and other luxury items, there are emotional letters and scribblings that hint at her private struggles.

“The amazing thing about these items is they’ve never been seen before in public since Marilyn passed in 1962,” said Martin Nolan, the executive director of Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles, which is handling the collection and their auction, scheduled for November.

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The items come from the estate of Lee Strasberg, the famous acting coach. He and his wife, Paula, were close with Monroe and she left her personal effects and clothing to him in her will, the auction house said in a news release.

The Hollywood star at a premiere. She was found dead at age 36 on Aug. 5, 1962.

Here’s a look at some of the items that will be sold.

1. Miniature Handbag With Lipstick and Cigarettes

Estimated value: $15,000-$20,000

Inside the gold metal case are two loose dimes, eight Philip Morris cigarettes, a tube of lipstick and a plastic comb. The original cotton buffer for powder is still there, too. Nolan said the case, which is his favorite item, appears to be from 1947.

“It’s just a time warp,” he said. “It takes you back to when Marilyn is 21 years of age and going out on the town.”

2. Receipt for Lard and Bacon

Estimated value: $300-$500

The food was delivered from a grocery store to the Beverly Hills Hotel on March 2, 1960. Monroe was filming “Let’s Make Love” at that time.

The items come from the estate of Lee Strasberg, the famous acting coach.

3. A Letter About Her Stay in a Psychiatric Clinic

Estimated value: $20,000-$30,000

The carbon copy of a letter the actress sent to her doctor is dated March 2, 1961. In it, she says that her stay at Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in New York felt like being “in some kind of prison for a crime I hadn’t committed.”

Monroe also details how she slammed a chair into glass, then used a piece of the broken glass to threaten to hurt herself if she wasn’t released. But, she adds: “I’m an actress and would never intentionally mark or mar myself. I’m just that vain.” Said Nolan, “It’s just harrowing to read it.”

4. A Platinum and Diamond Watch

Estimated value: $80,000-$120,000

It’s the highest-valued item in the batch of belongings that will be auctioned. The Blancpain cocktail watch and its bracelet have 71 round diamonds and two marquise diamonds.

5. Words About Marriage

Estimated value: $10,000-$20,000

Shortly after entering her third marriage, to the playwright Arthur Miller, Monroe wrote on a piece of stationery in 1956: “I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someones wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever, really.”

The couple divorced in 1961. Monroe had two previous marriages: At 16, still known as Norma Jeane Baker, she married her boyfriend Jimmy Dougherty. They divorced in 1946.

And she was married to the baseball great Joe DiMaggio for nine months in 1954.

6. A Recipe for Stuffing

Estimated value: $10,000-$20,000

The recipe was made famous in the book “Fragments,” which featured a variety of letters, poems and other scribblings from her life. The New York Times tried re-creating her stuffing after the book published in 2010. “The most unnerving thing about the recipe is its laboriousness,” reads the article.

7. Musings on Life and Work

Estimated value: $10,000-$20,000

“For life,” the note reads. “It is rather a determination not to be overwhelmed.” And on work, she wrote, “The truth can only be recalled, never invented.”

8. Art, Drawn in Crayon

Estimated value: $15,000-$20,000

A variety of Monroe’s crayon drawings, including the one titled “Lover Watching His Love Sleep,” will be auctioned.

“What people didn’t realize was Marilyn was an artist and she loved to paint and draw,” Nolan said. She even had architectural plans for an apartment in New York that included space for an art studio. The plans were never realized, but they will also be auctioned.

9. Letter: ‘I Don’t Know Anything’

Estimated value: $30,000-$50,000

Similar to the previous letter, Monroe wrote this in 1961 after her stay at the psychiatric clinic. It is addressed to Paula Strasberg. “Something has happened I think to make me lose my confidence,” she wrote, saying that she doesn’t know what it is. She adds: “Oh, Paula, I wish I knew why I am so anguished. I think maybe I’m crazy like all the other members of my family were, when I was sick I was sure I was.”

The actress was found dead at age 36 on Aug. 5, 1962, at her home in Los Angeles. “Beside the bed was an empty bottle that had contained sleeping pills,” The Times reported a day later.

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