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Monroe’s dress from JFK birthday sells for $4.8m at auction

Marilyn Monroe wore the skin-tight dress as she sang Happy Birthday to then US President John F Kennedy in 1962.

FILE: US actress Marilyn Monroe a few weeks before she died on 5 August 1962 at the age of 36. Picture: AFP

MILWAUKEE - The skin-tight dress Marilyn Monroe wore for her sultry rendition of _Happy Birthday _before then US President John F Kennedy at a 1962 gala was sold on Thursday for $4.8 million at an auction in Los Angeles.

Ripley’s Believe it or Not purchased the Jean Louis designed dress covered in sequins, the Beverly Hills-based Julien's Auctions said in a statement.

With its colour matching her skin tone, the dress, which was so tight that Monroe had to be sewn into it, gave the impression she was nude.

“Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday Mr President is certainly one of the most famous impromptu performances in American history,” said Darren Julien, President and CEO of Julien’s Auctions.

Monroe, one of the 20th century’s most famous sex symbols, wore the dress as she sang Happy Birthday to You to Kennedy in a breathy performance at a 19 May 1962 fundraiser for the Democratic Party in Madison Square Garden in New York.

The star of the films Some Like it Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes died of a drug overdose less than three months later. Monroe's song was to mark Kennedy's 45th birthday, which was to occur a couple weeks later. The president was assassinated the following year.

The late fund manager Martin Zweig bought the dress in 1999 for $1.26 million at a Christie's auction, Julien's Auctions said. Zweig, who saw the dress as an investment, kept it in a climate-controlled display case mounted on a mannequin, Julien said.

The dress is one of many items from Monroe's life which Julien's Auctions is offering during a three-day auction. Monroe would have been 90 year's old this year.

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