When American designer Bob Mackie sketched a dress for Marilyn Monroe in 1962, it was never intended to be work by anyone else, period. In an interview last month he said it was a “big mistake” that Kim Kardashian wore the “Happy Birthday Mr. President” gown to the Met Gala in May and according to a new report, he could be right.
Experts and fashion conservationists were outraged to learn that the 60-year-old gown had been damaged during the reality star’s brief red carpet walk. New photos of the dress were posted by Scott Fortner of the Instagram account @marilynmonroecollection today, from display at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in Orlando, Florida. In comparison of images of the dress from 2016, tears in the delicate chiffon can be seen at the zipper while crystals are either just hanging by a thread or completely missing.
“Was it worth it?,” Fortner asked in one post.
Kardashian was initially denied permission to wear the dress after it would not fit. Ripley’s refused to alter the dress (and for good reason). Instead, the beauty mogul went on to lose 16 pounds prior to the Met Gala, which caused controversy of its own.
The museum responded to early criticism in May, stating it took “great care” to preserve the dress. “With input from garment conservationists, appraisers and archivists, the garment’s condition was top priority… no alterations were made to dress and Kim even changed into a replica after the red carpet,” a statement read.
The dress is (was?) estimated to be worth $5 million after it was purchased at auction $1.8 million above the asking price. While it was sketched by Mackie, it was crafted by Hollywood costume designer Jean Louis and featured 6,000 Swarovski crystals. Monroe purchased the dress for $1,400 at the time and wore it when she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to then-President John F. Kennedy on his 45th birthday.