Marilyn Monroe’s famed “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress appears to have been damaged after Kim Kardashian wore it to the 2022 Met Gala.
New photos of the dress taken show that fabric along the back has been stretched and ripped and crystal embellishments are missing and in some places hanging by a thread. The photos were taken on Sunday by a visitor to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum in Hollywood and sent to the Instagram account @marilynmonroecollection for posting.
“So much for keeping ‘the integrity of the dress and the preservation,’” the account tweeted, alluding to comments made by Ripley’s and Kardashian that they went above and beyond to preserve the dress as it made its Met Gala outing. The Marilyn Monroe Collection Instagram tagged Ripley’s, asking, “was it worth it?”
Ripley’s bought Monroe’s Jean Louis dress in 2016 at an auction, paying $4.8 million U.S. Monroe famously wore the dress to sing “Happy Birthday” to U.S. President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1962.
Kardashian said that when she tried the dress on for the first time in the run-up to the Met Gala that it didn’t fit her. But she told Ripley’s, “Give me three weeks”, adding, “I had to lose 16 pounds down today.” Kardashian only wore the gown for the red carpet portion of the Gala, changing into a replica address for the remainder of the evening.
For its part, Ripley’s claimed “great care was taken to preserve this piece of pop culture history.” In a statement released after the Met, Ripley’s said “no damage” had occurred to the dress. “This was no easy decision for Ripley’s, however, Kim Kardashian has continued to show the utmost respect for this opportunity and historic garment,” the oddity museum said. “From extensive research to following guidelines such as no body makeup, only wearing the dress for the short red-carpet appearance, and making absolutely no alterations, she has become a steward — and added to — its history.”
Legendar designer Bob Mackie, who drew the sketch for Monroe’s dress while working as an assistant to Jean Louis, criticized Ripley’s and Kardashian after the Gala. “I thought it was a big mistake,” Mackie told EW. “[Marilyn] was a goddess. A crazy goddess, but a goddess. She was just fabulous. Nobody photographs like that. And it was done for her. It was designed for her. Nobody else should be seen in that dress.”
In a follow up post, The Marilyn Monroe Collection Instagram shared a video of Monroe’s dress taken before Kardashian wore it, responding to commenters who doubted how much damage had actually been done.
“To anyone who may be questioning the actual condition of Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ dress prior to being purchased by @ripleysbelieveitornot or implying that low quality photos of the dress were shared to somehow make the newly discovered damage to the dress seem worse than it actually is, this is 4K video that I took of the gown while it was on display at @juliens_auctions in November of 2016,” the account captioned their post. “Without question, the damage is significant.”