Forever Marilyn has a new temporary home.
On Friday, a Riverside County judge ruled that a 26-foot, 30,000-pound statue called Forever Marilyn has a clear path to installation on Museum Way in Palm Springs. The statue’s location had been the subject of controversy in the desert community where its planned placement will find it standing outside the Palm Springs Art Museum on a street that was previously open to vehicle traffic. A group of concerned citizens — a collection going by the name “Committee to Relocate Marilyn” — raised more than $63,000 on GoFundMe and used it to fund a lawsuit to block the installation.
The statue was purchased for $1 million last year by P.S. Resorts, an organization consisting of hoteliers and tourism stakeholders in the area including executives from all the top properties. Along with city approvals, the group had planned to place the statue on Museum Way for a minimum of three years, after which time a permanent location would be designated. Critics lobbied that it would block the view of the historic museum, and when guests exit the facility, they would be greeted by the statue’s panty-clad backside, which some say is sexist and sends the wrong message in the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.
The judge’s ruling rejected their motion and came after a preliminary judgment was issued on April 8. Oral arguments were made the following morning when a judge made the ruling permanent. “We are grateful for the time and consideration of the court in this matter and are relieved that we now are able to move ahead as planned,” P.S. Resorts chairman Aftab Dada said in a statement. “Now, our attention turns to plans for welcoming Marilyn home to Palm Springs.”
The group is currently working out logistics to get Marilyn to the desert as it is a complicated plan around which a celebration and official unveiling will be planned. Created by sculptor Seward Johnson, Forever Marilyn debuted in Chicago in 2011 and was previously on view in Palm Springs from 2012-2014. The statue’s return to Palm Springs has been in the works for over seven years, according to P.S. Resorts. Many in the community had been eagerly awaiting its revival as Monroe has long been a symbol of the old Hollywood glamour often associated with the area.
Not everyone is cheering. A Change.org petition has racked up more than 25,000 signatures and the collective of concerned citizens on the ground in Palm Springs are also on alert. “While we are disappointed by the ruling, we maintain that placing the statue in Museum Way is ill-advised,” reads a statement on the Committee to Relocate Marilyn GoFundMe account, led by fashion designer and business owner Trina Turk. “We will consider other legal options, and in the meantime, continue our fight in the court of public opinion. CReMa additionally maintains that PS Resorts and the City of Palm Springs have ignored, and continue to ignore, the increasing negative outcry regarding not only the placement but the content of the statue.”
As for the museum, Scott Slaven, director of marketing, communications and graphic design, tells THR that officials there are disappointed as well, “but we hope that the statue will only be on Museum Way on a temporary basis. Meanwhile, we have a lot of other things that we want to focus on: our recent reopening, the installation of a Gonzalo Lebrija piece across the street from the museum, which just happened this morning, and the assembly of the Aluminaire House in our south parking lot this summer.”