Hollywood memorabilia continues to rack up superlatives on the auction market, with every sale seemingly bigger and more thrilling than the one that preceded it. We’ll see the latest example of that on Tuesday, when Profiles in History kicks off two events: “Essential Marilyn: The Auction,” followed by “Hollywood Auction 96,” a 2,000-lot sale that spans almost a century of cinema history.
“I do think it’s the best sale we’ve ever had in terms of sheer quality,” says Joe Maddalena, Profiles in History’s president and CEO, of the latter event, an expansive memorabilia auction that includes a wide range of photography, film and television costumes, props, animation cells, scripts and a few Academy Awards. “There are 2,000 lots, but I probably rejected about 8,000 lots, because we don’t take everything. There really is a method to the madness. You get a good look into my brain with the catalog, because it has to be something I like, or I can’t get behind it.”
While the Marilyn Monroe auction is markedly smaller at 173 lots, Maddalena says that event is all about quality vs. quantity: In addition to costumes from iconic films like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire, pieces include the actress' shooting script from The Seven Year Itch, with her handwritten notes in the margins, as well as personal items like her ticket and program to John F. Kennedy’s 45th birthday party at Madison Square Garden, where she famously sang “Happy Birthday” to the 35th President of the United States.
“Quality-wise, it’s the best Marilyn Monroe auction that’s ever taken place,” Maddalena says. “The majority of the items come from one person, someone who’s been collecting for 30 or 40 years, and they decided to sell a couple of years ago. To have 15 of Marilyn’s costumes in one sale is unprecedented. I can’t ever replicate this again.”
With so many lots to sift through, which items might draw the eyes of fans and collectors? Here’s a roundup of 10 unique pieces of Hollywood history sure to spark interest no matter how you define your fandom.