Marilyn Monroe’s famous “Happy Birthday Mr President” dress has suffered from “permanent damage” after Kim Kardashian wore the fragile garment during the 2022 Met Gala, a collector has said.
Scott Fortner, a collector who assists in authenticating and verifying memorabilia related to the 1950s screen legend, shared photographs in a blog post that appeared to show stretched fabric and missing crystals on the back of the dress.
It comes after Kardashian wore the iconic dress on the red carpet of the 2022 Met Gala in early May, before changing into a replica for the rest of the evening.
Fortner told the PA agency that Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, who owns the dress, was “irresponsible” to loan what has been dubbed “the most famous dress in the world”.
The historic gown was acquired by the museum in 2016 for US$4.8 million (£3.8 million) and is usually kept in a darkened, temperature-controlled vault at 40 to 50 per cent humidity to preserve it.
But images of the purported damage has sparked backlash against Kardashian on social media, with many criticising her for wearing it in the first place.
One person wrote on Twitter: “This is like walking into the Louvre and throwing paint thinner directly onto the Mona Lisa. Fashion preservation is so important.
“This was the destruction of an irreplaceable historical artifact, all for a walk down a red carpet. I’m going to be sick.”
“I do feel that it (was) irresponsible, this is not just a dress. This is a cultural icon. It’s a political icon. It’s a Hollywood icon.
“It’s part of American history from an event that happened 60 years ago and... it should have been archived and preserved and taken care of.”
He added: “I think a lot of people are really kind of coming down really hard on Kim Kardashian and that’s not my attempt here.
“It’s the most famous dress in the world.”
The dress, which was created by French designer Jean Louis, was donned by Monroe on 19 May 1962, when she performed her now-famous rendition of “Happy Birthday” to the then US president, John F Kennedy.
Fortner added that he felt Ripley’s decision to loan the dress out to Kardashian was for “publicity”.
“Because the amount of publicity that’s come from this has been really priceless, you couldn’t pay for the amount of publicity they’d have gotten and that’s really the only thing I can think of as a reason for them to do it.”
Following the Met Gala, Ripley’s insisted that all steps were taken to ensure the dress would not be damaged when Kardashian wore it.
Amanda Joiner, vice president of licensing and publishing at Ripley’s, told The Daily Beast: “The dress was never Kim alone. It was always with a Ripley’s representative.
“We always ensured that at any time we felt that the dress was in danger of ripping or we felt uncomfortable about anything, we always had the ability to be able to say we were not going to continue with this.”
Kim’s money comes from TV income and endorsement deals, according to the magazine, as well as her two lifestyle brands.
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