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Lot # 1047: Only Known Photograph of JFK & Marilyn - from Official JFK White House Photographer Cecil W. Stoughton

Category: Best of the Best

Starting Bid: $2,500.00

Bids: 24 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed




This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "2018 Invitational",
which ran from 7/15/2018 9:00 AM to
8/17/2018 10:00 PM



One of the more important 20th century photographs brought to auction. From the estate of Cecil W. Stoughton, the official White House photographer for the JFK presidency. This surreptitious gem was discovered by his heirs AFTER his death in 2008. Marilyn Monroe is wearing the translucent dress she was poured into for singing "Happy Birthday Mr. President" at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962. The after party of this "affair" was held at the private Manhattan townhouse of Hollywood exec Arthur Krim. Interestingly, Stoughton was the only photographer there yet was instructed NOT to photograph Ms. Monroe with President Kennedy. There had been numerous rumors that the two were at one time romantically involved. (History has shown that was far more than merely rumor.) Against specific instruction he did manage to "sneak in" this shot, as is evidenced by the image's hurried and harried nature. He did keep the image secret out of respect for the First Lady. This, despite the fact that a photo of the two of them together would at the time have been an invaluable paparazzi-type property. Ironically, the image includes Robert F. Kennedy at left, JFK at right, and Ms. Monroe sandwiched between the two. How fitting. She is still wearing the famous translucent gown she performed in. Marilyn and Jack share a similar expression that is caught in a split moment in time. Both appear uncomfortable, belying their former relationship and immortally storied personal history. In the background can be seen singer and activist Harry Belafonte, plus historian Arthur Schlesinger directly in front of the starlet as if to engage or pay homage. Schlesinger later wrote about this night: "The image of this exquisite, beguiling and desperate girl will always stay with me. I do not think I have seen anyone so beautiful; I was enchanted by her manner and her wit, at once so masked, so ingenuous and so penetrating. But one felt a terrible unreality about her - as if talking to someone under water. Bobby and I engaged in mock competition for her" (Journals, 1952-2000, page 162). We know of no other specimen of this image. There is a copy in the LIFE magazine archive being offered on Getty, but we are not sure if this is merely a copy of this. This very well could be the one and only print from the original negative. This was printed by the photographer Cecil Stoughton himself, in New York in the mid-1970s. Silver gelatin print measures 11x11", dry-mounted on board and matted, with light age-toning. An indicator of the importance of this moment in history is the sale at auction of the dress she is wearing here for $4.8 million in 2016. The buyer, Edward Meyer, vice president of Ripley's Believe It Or Not, said at the time: "We believe this is the most iconic piece of pop culture that there is." Light toning around the borders from the mat o/w NM.

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