See what people are clicking on FoxBusiness.com.
60 years after her passing, Marilyn Monroe’s market value is still very much in evidence.
America’s most well-known sex icon and Hollywood actress passed away in August 1962 at the age of 36. The singer reportedly had a net worth of $800K at the time of her death, which is equivalent to close to $8 million in today’s currency.
Monroe’s estimated net worth in 2022 is $10 million. She was included No. 13 on Forbes’ list of the highest-paid deceased celebrities in 2020 as a result of nearly 100 firms using her name and image internationally. The topic of the upcoming Netflix movie “Blonde,” which has been given an NC-17 rating, is a fictitious version of the celebrity.
The largest private collection of Marilyn Monroe’s belongings and papers is owned by Scott Fortner. (Courtesy of Fox News and Scott Fortner)
Lifelong admirer Scott Fortner is devoted to preserving some of Marilyn Monroe’s most priceless things in order to perpetuate her memory. Major auction houses receive assistance from Fortner, who is regarded as an authority on Monroe, in authenticating and validating artifacts.
He is the owner of the worlds largest private collection of Monroe’s personal belongings and archives, which he posts on his website and social media accounts.
At a number of events at Hollywood, California’s TCL Chinese Theatre this year, hell be honoring her life.
In an interview with FOX Business, Fortner discussed how he rose to the status of a coveted collector, the reasons why Monroe is more precious than ever, and gave suggestions for admirers hoping to acquire a genuine piece of history.
FOCUS Business How did you come to collect Marilyn Monroe memorabilia? Shaun Fortner Like everyone else, you can just be deeply intrigued by a certain person or figure. When I was maybe 12 or 13, that is what happened to me. Marilyn Monroe definitely captivated me. I started reading and learning more about her as I collected books and publications. This persisted into adulthood.
At age 36, Marilyn Monroe passed away in August 1962. / Getty Images (Frank Povolny/Twentieth Century Fox/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis)
Then, in 1999, Christies in New York held an auction of her whole estate. The foundation for celebrity auctions was really laid by that auction. The auction’s catalog was something I bought, adding it to my collection of books. But then I noticed that some of the goods from the 1999 sale were being auctioned again online at auction sites like eBay.
Why am I collecting books and periodicals when I might be collecting things that Marilyn owned, I asked myself. That was how it began more than 20 years ago. This is not a business or group investing in these things for profit or for any other reason. I’m just a lucky fan who who happens to collect.
FOCUS Business Do you ever loan your pieces to museums, or is it just for private use? Fortner: As someone who was fortunate enough to acquire these artifacts, I feel a sense of responsibility to share them with the public and give other admirers the chance to experience Marilyn through her possessions in the same way that I do.
Marilyn Monroe’s lime green Pucci blouse is one of Scott Fortner’s most valued items. (Courtesy of Fox News and Scott Fortner)
I lend my collection out for shows. It has been displayed all around the world. I frequently take part in fundraising events for philanthropic organizations. For instance, certain things have been put up for sale to help fund the current operation of the actual orphanage where Marilyn stayed as a child.
FOCUS Business How do you go about locating genuine artifacts? Fortner: I had little knowledge of the modern auction industry when I initially started. I’ve learned more about the auction business throughout the years. I now maintain connections with the majority of the world’s leading auction houses, including Christies, Juliens Auctions, and Heritage. These are your top entertainment-related auction houses.
Additionally, I’m a relatively well-known figure in the collecting world. People frequently contact me personally to see if I might be interested in buying something they might have. In my opinion, networking and education are crucial if you want to grow your collection. And I’m constantly seeking out new items to add to my collection.
This year, Scott Fortner obtained the white Ferragamo pumps once owned by Marilyn Monroe. (Courtesy of Fox News and Scott Fortner)
FOCUS Business How many things do you own right now? Fortner: I no longer have a precise number. I ceased keeping score. However, there are numerous hundreds.
FOCUS Business What do you consider to be your crown jewel? Fortner: Marilyn’s custom Pucci blouse is the item about which I am most frequently questioned. She wore Pucci a lot in the last few years of her life. She discovered an Italian designer, which changed her style and got rid of the tight sweaters and skirts from the 1950s. It had a more simplistic, modern appearance. In her wardrobe, she kept a number of Pucci pieces. She was also laid to rest wearing a green Pucci gown. Consequently, Marilyn has come to represent the brand.
It just so happens that the blouse I own is the one she wore in the final photographs ever taken of her, which were shot the weekend before she passed away. In terms of selling, it is the product I am most commonly questioned about. It’s not up for grabs. I’m not a dealer; I’m a collector.
Marilyn Monroe clad in Ferragamo footwear. (Courtesy of Fox News and Scott Fortner)
I’ve been wanting to add the most recent item to my collection for a while. High heels by Marilyn Ferragamo are what they are. She frequently wore the white Ferragamo high heel. Many images from the 1950s and 1960s show Marilyn wearing them. It’s a recent addition to my collection that I recently made a standard.
FOCUS Business Which item was the most challenging for you to get? Marilyn went to a fundraiser for the Actors Studio, according to Fortner. She worked as an usher. As they entered the theater, Marilyn would hand them a program and lead them to their seats. Being accompanied by Marilyn must have been a very memorable event. She wore a set that included a cape that matched her evening dress. Several years ago, there was an auction for that object. After placing a bid on the item, I was informed that I had won. It turned out that it didn’t reach the reserve or the minimum bid.
Many times, a vendor will state, “I’m not going to sell the item if it doesn’t reach this exact number.” I learned after the auction, and I then had to go through the arduous process of trying to bargain with the vendor. After that, I bought it privately. That took several months to occur. It’s arguably one of Marilyn’s most well-known public events, so I was fortunate in that respect. I now own that cloak and I have a collection.
In 2016, Julien’s Auctions sold Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” outfit for $4.8 million. (AFP/Getty Images/Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images)
FOCUS Business In 1960, Marilyn passed away. What makes you think that she is now more valued than ever? Fortner: She is an icon, to begin with. And I believe that she still has a lot of relevance now. Some folks merely like her photographs. Others like her movies. Some people can identify with her personal challenges throughout her life. What I discover frequently is that she strikes a chord with individuals. There is a strong desire to defend her. I believe she has a very wide appeal. And it’s not just in America; it’s everywhere. She has a very wide and enduring reach because of the connections I’ve made with other collectors and fans around the world. She is a legend of the big screen as well as an icon of beauty and fashion.
The cape once worn by Marilyn Monroe is now Scott Fortner’s. (Courtesy of Fox News and Scott Fortner)
FOCUS Business How difficult is it today to locate and purchase genuine Marilyn memorabilia? Fortner: What I’m observing right now is that people are fiercely clinging onto their mementos and collectibles since its value is rising with time. Therefore, whenever there is an auction , the number of pieces available may be extremely restricted. Marilyn is one of those individuals whose value never diminishes. She is valuable and only gets more valuable. As a result, people take longer to list their stuff for auction. As a result, availability is becoming more difficult.
According to Scott Fortner, Christie’s 1999 sale of Marilyn Monroe’s personal items set the standard for celebrity auctions. (Getty Images / Dan Callister Online USA, Inc. )
FOCUS Business How can one tell if something is genuine or not? What warning indicators do you watch out for? Fortner: Make sure you verify authenticity as one of your first priorities. Where did the object originate? Did it originate from that 1999 Christies sale or from a different auction sale, like Juliens’? You need to confirm the year it was first sold and that it originated from a reputable auction house. Is there a picture of the item that can be matched, too? Is a picture of Marilyn wearing the item available, either at home or at a public event? There are pictures of a lot of my collection items with Marilyn.
Marilyn Monroe earrings, estimated to be worth between $150,000 and $200,000, on show at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, California, on April 7, 2014. (Getty Images/David Livingston / Getty Images)
I advise customers to stay away from second- or third-generation items, such those that are being sold with the seller’s claim that “Marilyn gave this to me.” Authenticity letters or certificates are frequently included with certain artifacts. Buying those things is quite risky because they frequently aren’t genuine. Today, there is a significant industry, especially on eBay, where people would fabricate certificates of authenticity saying that the item is authentic while, in actuality, it was probably something bought from a used shop. They’ll simply buy the thing, make a letter of authenticity, and then sell it for a fortune on eBay. Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to think something is authentic just because it has a certificate stating that it was created by Marilyn’s makeup or hairstylist. That is not typically the case.
0 Scott Fortner had owned a cape worn by Marilyn Monroe. (Courtesy of Fox News and Scott Fortner)
People who have items for sale and have letters of authenticity for them frequently contact me. I’m forced to inform them that “This object is not real, and here’s how I know that.” The case of Marilyns foster sister , Bebe Goddard, is ideal. Marilyn spent some time residing with the Goddard family. Later, Bebe collaborated with a trader in memorabilia to produce false artifacts that he then marketed on her behalf. Even more was done, Chanel No. 5 was sprayed on those goods. Her records were used to confirm that these items were sold to persons after she went away. People took them for granted just because they were associated with Marilyn and thought they were real. Additionally, a certificate of authenticity attesting to the genuineness of the objects was included.
People still make these fictitious letters of authenticity today. It’s not only with Marilyn things, either. It contains a wide variety of celebrity collectibles. A few genuine real things can be found on eBay. People should continue using the major auction companies, in my opinion.
1 In this image from December 2003, Marilyn Monroe is wearing a tiger hide in a rare advertising shot taken at Christie’s auction house in South Kensington, London. AFP/Getty Images/Jim Watson/Getty Images
Additionally, fake autographs are simple to make. The printers of today are amazing. You can easily make a front and back photocopy of a cheque, even one that Marilyn actually had. Then you’ll frame that object and put it in a showcase. People often act in that way. Of course, many people will believe it to be genuine when it is really a duplicate. Even in autograph books and pictures, people can fake signatures in a variety of other ways. Make sure the thing you’re buying is actually authentic by doing your research.
2 First-time collectors are advised by Scott Fortner to place a bid at a respected auction house. (Getty Images / Dan Kitwood / Getty Images)
FOCUS Business What if you’re a fan of Marilyn and want to acquire something that was previously hers? What would be your first piece of guidance for them? Fortner: Make sure this is something you’ll be interested in over the long run and not just a purchase you make on the spur of the moment, is my first piece of advice. Avoid experiencing buyer’s remorse. Make a budget as well. Emotions often run high during auctions. And it’s fiercely competitive. Some folks only care about winning. Make sure to establish a budget and strive to stay within it.
In addition to taxes, people frequently overlook the surcharges that auction houses charge when selling an item. When someone wins an auction, there are other percentages that are added on top for the premium and state taxes. I’ve seen people who are unaware of these additional percentages. They do add up. Additionally, if you’re just starting out, I would stay with the well-known auction houses.
3 Every year, the value of Marilyn Monroe’s estate rises. Photographed by Getty Images
FOX Business: Marilyn is one of the highest-paid deceased celebs year after year. How does she make top bucks right now? Fortner: Authentic Brands Group, a corporation that holds the rights, licenses, marketing, advertising, and branding for many deceased celebrities, is the owner of Marilyn’s estate. They grant permission to use Marilyn’s name and image to advertise specific goods. Marilyn is one of the highest-paid deceased celebrities in today’s market because she is still in high demand.