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Arts and Entertainment

Marilyn Monroe's Iconic 'Happy Birthday' Dress Just Sold For $4.8 Million

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Marilyn Monroe performing "Happy Birthday" in the dress. (LIFE)

The dress that Marilyn Monroe wore as she performed her version of "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy is one of the most iconic in existence, and was the centerpiece of a scandalous rumor. It just sold at auction in Los Angeles for $4.81 million, according to the AP.

The dress was on the block at Julien's Auctions last night, and the big winner was Ripley's Believe It or Not, who will likely put it on display in the future.

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The dress on a custom mannequin with Monroe’s exact body measurements. (Julien's Auctions)

Monroe wore the then-$12,000 dress to perform at a Democratic Party fundraiser being held at (the old) Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962. It doubled as a celebration for JFK's birthday, with 15,000 in attendance. Following the performance, JFK came to the stage and announced, "I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way." The performance (and Jackie Kennedy's absence) spurred rumors that the two were having an affair.

The dress—made of silk, sequins and rhinestone—was designed by Jean Louis, and Monroe famously had to be sewn into it because it was so tight; the actress was reportedly unable to wear anything underneath for the same reason.

Monroe died three months after the event (there are plenty of conspiracy theories about that), and JFK was assassinated the following year.

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