How much does it cost to be buried next to Marilyn Monroe?

Everything that once belonged to the Hollywood pin-up has fetched scandalous prices at auction, from a used lipstick in a personalized shade for $65,000 to a vault next to the star’s for $195,000

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe in a publicity shot for a new movie in March 1950.Michael Ochs Archives (Getty)
Jesús Delgado Barroso

For some, their obsession with celebrities extends into the next life. And for those with the money, lying in eternal rest in a crypt neighboring Marilyn Monroe’s is not an impossible dream. It may seem like a joke, but the vault next to the Hollywood legend’s was auctioned for more than $195,000 this Saturday. It was sold along with a string of collectible relics belonging to the movie star, and some of Hugh Hefner’s, the founder of Playboy, the world’s first erotic magazine.

The event, named Icons: Playboy, Hugh Hefner, and Marilyn Monroe, was organized in Los Angeles (California) by celebrity auction house Julien’s Auctions, known worldwide for organizing the sale of intimate objects that belong or belonged to celebrities. The three-day event saw more than 600 items sold off and raised more than $4.2 million. The jewel in the crown: one of the star’s dresses designed by Emilio Pucci sold for $325,000, becoming the most expensive dress ever sold at auction.

It is curious that the erotic magazine mogul and the artist never met, but, according to the organizers, “their legacies became inextricably linked when Monroe appeared in Hefner’s inaugural 1953 Playboy issue. At that time, they gained worldwide fame, becoming two important figures in 20th century America and Playboy establishing itself as an iconic global brand.”

The bidding included a wide variety of objects: a burgundy dressing gown, pajamas, and black silk slippers (including his tobacco pipe), the personal property of Hugh Hefner, in which the businessman walked around during his legendary parties at the Playboy Mansion (sold for $13,000); his own custom-made circular bed (also sold for $13,000); and the actress’s custom-shade Elizabeth Arden lipstick, which sold for $65,000. The old grave marker that labeled the artist’s crypt — it was removed due to the damage that visiting fans had caused — fetched $88,000.

Anthony Jabin, an investment magnate in technology companies, was one of the event’s big winners, becoming the owner of an aboveground niche — officially known as Wall B, Space C-3 on the Corridor of Memories — at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery (Los Angeles). “I always dreamed of being next to Marilyn Monroe for the rest of my life,” he told British television BBC just after the auction.

Jabin also took possession of Hefner’s circular Playboy Mansion bed, and the swimsuit in which Monroe showed off her figure on the beaches of California, making her a sex symbol of the time. What is more, this three-piece swimsuit was custom-made as a prop for the musical There’s No Business Like Showbiz (1954).

Marilyn Monroe's tombstone at Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, 1990.
Marilyn Monroe's tombstone at Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, 1990.Santi Visalli (Getty Images)

The Hollywood star was one of the most photographed women of the time, and she appeared in fashion and style magazines on a daily basis. A costume the star wore in a series of photographs, taken by Richard Avedon for a 1958 Life magazine photo story, was sold for $29,250. For the shoot, Monroe dressed as other Hollywood personalities such as Theda Bara, Clara Bow, Jean Harlow, and Marlene Dietrich.

The story went down in history for capturing the artist’s emotional decline: “Nothing and no one is going to bring me down. It really bothers me the way the press has been talking about me, that the studios don’t like me, that I’m full of pills, that I drink a lot... It’s all a lie!... Lately, I’ve been a little depressed and in low form, they are things of the heart.”

The thousands of photographs of Marilyn Monroe are part of the history of the Golden Age of cinema. The most expensive photograph of the actress, sold in 2011 for $28,800, is legendary. It is a portrait of the actress from her early days, in sepia tones, signed by herself. In the dedication to her then neighbor, Phil Hooper, you can read: “To Phil, Best wishes always. Sincerely, Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jean).”

Marilyn and her enduring legacy

This is not the first time that the late actress’s objects have been put up for auction. Everything around the Hollywood star attracts thousands of fans. In 2022, the same auction house, together with the TCM television channel, put 175 of the actress’s intimate items up for sale, with which they raised more than $80,000.

Among the notable objects of the latter is a handwritten dedication to the artist by Arthur Miller, who became her third husband. On a sheet of paper, torn from a spiral-shaped notebook, one can read: “This book is being written out of the courage, the widened view of life, the awareness of love and beauty, given to me by my love, my wife-to-be, my Marilyn. I bless her for this gift, and I write it so that she may have from me the only thing unique thing I know how to make. I bless her, I owe her the discovery of my soul.” The note was sold for almost 30,000 euros.

But another thing about the auction of his objects draws even more attention. In 2016, the Julien’s house put on sale the legendary dress with which she sang Happy Birthday Mr. President to John F. Kennedy in 1962. The same year that she died. The piece, which is decorated with 2,500 sequins and which she was sewn into, was part of the bag of 1,300 objects that were auctioned at the time. The dress had already been sold in 2016 for $4.8 million to a Canadian billionaire, who would later make the mistake of lending it to Kim Kardashian for the Met Gala. Everything that belonged or simply had something to do with the brightest star in the Hollywood universe finds itself on the market for an outrageous price.

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