“Marilyn Monroe-the exhibit” on the Queen Mary opened its doors to the public on November 11, but it had already been denounced as a fraud the night before at a press preview.
(Marilyn Monroe “scared and shocked” in 1949 for a Life magazine photo shoot by Philippe Halsman for “Eight Girls Try Out Mixed Emotions” article. Photo courtesy of the Mark Bellinghaus collection.)
Robert W. Welkos, a prominent Los Angeles Times writer, was given a personal tour that night by collector Mark Bellinghaus, who pointed out the blatant and clumsy attempts at deception. Welkos laughed, shook his head, rolled his eyes in wonder – yet did nothing, said nothing, to warn readers and the tens of thousands of visitors who would plunk down an outrageous $22.95 each to be admitted to the exhibit.
Mr. Welkos’s first article, written before the press opening, gave a warm handshake to Robert W. Otto, the owner of the dubious Marilyn collection. In his first article about the exhibit, on 11/11/05, the Los Angeles Times withheld the facts and proof against the exhibit that was delivered first-hand. Welkos had come to Bellinghaus’ home days before the opening of the exhibit and seen the real hair rollers of Marilyn Monroe.
And for two hours he was shown photo-documented memorabilia of the legend from some of her Puccis to the amazing cape she wore in The Prince And The Showgirl , even the last piece Marilyn Monroe wore alive (as described by Eunice Murray in her book ) – a white terrycloth bathing robe.
For two hours Bellinghaus shared his collection with this reporter, only to be portrayed as a scoffer, a jealous collector and quoted out of context. That is outrageous and not acceptable.
We were still hopeful when we saw the question mark placed behind the name of Marilyn Monroe in the first article’s headline. But Otto made one outrageous claim after another and people seemed to believe him – it’s scandalous that the Estate of Marilyn Monroe is backing up his ridiculous tales.
We approached the Times the first day of the exhibit and gave them solid proof of fraud — including the now infamous 1974 hair curlers — but a follow-up, and a warning, were never printed. Welkos failed in his two articles about the exhibit to point out the scam and crime that the public is facing.
There are, however sincere and truth-hungry journalists with guts who do report about real scandal, and who try to warn the public about them. The Los Angeles Independent newspaper ran a cover story by Mary Frances Gurton headlined “Expert: Marilyn Show Memorabilia Fake.”
When she called the Queen Mary to verify that the curlers were no longer on display, Ms. Gurton was given the brush-off, again.
She just released her latest update, and again, cover-story, that was published on 4/5/05 and is titled “Marilyn Memorabilia Furor Deepens.” Kudos to Mary Frances.
Isn’t it telling enough that Mr. Otto would not comment – again? He now has his press agent answering for him. Who does he really think he is? Leonardo Di Caprio?
(Photo: Real hair curlers of Marilyn Monroe, and yes, with real hair of Marilyn Monroe, with Christie’s and Julien’s tags attached to them. Originated from the Estate of Marilyn Monroe, owned by Anna Strasberg. Sold at auction in June 2005, five month before the hoax exhibit opened its doors in Long Beach. Why did Otto not buy those? Courtesy of and owned by The Mark Bellinghaus collection)
(Photo: Fake hair curlers of Marilyn Monroe, and yes, with fake hair attached to them. Maybe the hair originated from one of Otto’s dolls from the “doll salon“? Identical 1974 Clairol hair setters are available on eBay for a starting bid of $0.01! After Bellinghaus’ blog success across the Internet, even Entertainment Tonight edited out the crazy psychic (James van Praagh) with those hair curlers and the other crap he was authenticating as Monroe’s. To pull an item — as they did in early March — does not mean that it never existed. On the contrary. To remove this highlight of the exhibit may as well mean the “final blow” of this scandalous sham. Photo courtesy of Mark Bellinghaus)
We went on our own to Long Beach — to the Police Department, to the Mayor’s office, to the City Attorney’s office — but no one had time for us, no one had answers. The standard answer we got was that they had no jurisdiction over the Queen Mary. It is a leased property and apparently answers to no man, no legal authority. How can that be? What if somebody shot somebody on the Queen Mary? Tough luck, we suppose. Maybe they could drag the body off the ship and dump it in the parking lot: would the City Attorney or Police Department be interested then?
Four months later, on 3/23/06, The Los Angeles Times printed a toothless story on collecting Marilyn memorabilia, without a single word of warning about the fraudulent show. The fake hair rollers that Mr. Bellinghaus reported to Mr. Welkos the first day into the exhibit – not even mentioned.
But it’s obvious that Robert W. Welkos had read Mark’s first article, (which Mark forwarded to him), and mined it for inspiration and topics for his story. Read Mark’s story and compare to Welkos’ article.
(Photo: “Up close and personal” is not a promise, a it is nightmare, an obscene threat, in this case. Any ordinary garage sale could have the same effect – just cheaper! Ad courtesy of The Los Angeles Times.)
The Times feature ended with a quote from Mark Roesler, the head of CMG licensing, who answered the allegations of fraud by saying, “You always have jealous fan club members and collectors who question such things. It goes with the territory,” which outraged fans and collectors all over the world – the very ones who are paying for Roesler’s silver Ferrari with the “JDean” license plate. Not a smart move, Mr. Roesler: “Pride comes before the fall.”
(Photo: Is this the new hot trend for this summer, men with purses? Tres chic. And after the “Brokeback Mountain” success, very possible. Our model here is the famous and powerful lawyer, Mark Roesler, who successfully turned Marilyn Monroe into a “bag lady.” We are waiting for the Marilyn Monroe toilet seat to be released … with her signature and portrait on the lid of course – nothing would amaze us anymore. Article courtesy of the Brazilian magazine Jornal do Brasil – Roesler, of course, also has an office in Brazil. The article was headlined Dinhero, Portuguese for money … wonder why?)
(Photo: Oops – didn’t we just see that very same MM-on-tiger-background bag in Roesler’s arm? Yes, indeed – but this time it is behind glass and on display on the “$8.75 million exhibit” on the historic ocean liner in Long Beach. The bobble head Marilyn on top must be made of pure platinum. But no, it is just another ordinary eBay find. But good enough as a throne for a display case … if anybody still has doubts that the star lawyer is “in” with Otto and the rest of the hoaxers, reality checkup lights are flashing! Photo courtesy of Mark Bellinghaus)
The show is still there … still lying and stealing from the paying public, with many tourists and local fans being pranked, stepping into that open trap. The fraud is reaching the $1 million mark, from admission fees and sponsorshipby companies like Pepsi-Cola, Domino’s Pizza, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and Toyota of Long Beach – plus CMG Worldwide, who is also an official sponsor. This scam is scheduled to tour the world for the next 12 years, visiting more than 39 cities, if they are not stopped right now!
(Photo: Real! How many opera glasses would be needed by a super busy movie star who only lived to age 36? Here are two of hers – real ones, if we can believe Anna Strasberg and her stored treasures. These two opera glasses were sold on September 20th, 2001 at Christie’s in Beverly Hills, both together for only $1,293. But Otto wasn’t the buyer of those! Courtesy of Christie’s)
(Photo: Fake! Another so called “highlight” from this attempt to recreate a Christie’s auction. These fake MM opera glasses were also on the ET show with James van Praagh who acted like it was funny to look through them and be scared. We did not find it funny at all. We would find it funny, if his followers and believers finally would accept the truth: That he is a CHARLATAN. Unless these people can prove the exact authenticity of their pieces, we have to believe that almost ALL ITEMS, like the removed hair curler, the shiny red dress, or the blond Some Like It Hot wig, that ALSO HAS BEEN PULLED FROM THE RUNNING EXHIBIT due to Bellinghaus’ first article – and 98.9% of the claimed Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, are FAKE!)
Mark’s first story was called “Marilyn Monroe’s Memory Defrauded in Long Beach – The Truth is Here.” MSNBC.com’s “Clicked” column has already compared it to RatherGate, so shall we call this scam our Marilyn/Enron?
BIG LIE #1
Robert W. Otto announced to the press that his Marilyn collection is worth $10 million. But Mark Roesler, of CMG licensing, says he appraises the collection at $8.75 million—but where did they get those outrageous figures? And since when is he an APPRAISER? Watch the CMG Webcast (of October 8, 2004), in which the two men discuss the tacky collection spread out before them: Otto does his goofy grin routine, but Roesler shows little interest and seems to be clueless as to the items’ value – several times he even asks Otto for the value of this or that item: How much is this worth? Mary Frances Gurton of the Los Angeles Independent newspaper was told by Felton Hyche, VP of QM special events, that no independent appraisal of the collection had been made. So again we ask – where did Roesler get that outrageous $8.75 million figure? He can’t appraise, so he must have taken Otto’s word for it.
We agree with the comment from Roger Richman, the lawyer who started the fight to protect the rights of deceased celebrities, and the first lawyer to handle the Marilyn Monroe estate. In the 12/04 issue of Los Angeles magazine, Richman refuted Mark Roesler’s me-first claims, calling him “a liar and a dwarf and a scumbag.”
We know that Otto bought most of the entire collection from June DiMaggio, Joe Franklin, and from fraudulent eBay sellers. There’s not one authentic movie costume on display – so please tell the world, tell us where to look for the million dollar items!
Serious Marilyn collectors put the value of the collection – the few genuine pieces, plus the mass-produced dolls and crappy collectibles, the bottles of wine, the vintage magazines with Marilyn covers – at $20 to $30 thousand dollars. That’s a long way to $8.75 million!
Or did we miss a closet full of “Happy Birthday, Mr. President dresses,” in one of the tacky corners of the exhibit? And speaking about dresses… the pink gown that they are displaying is NOT from the movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes“. As Robert W. Welkos told us when we walked together through that creepy exhibit. Otto admitted that at least to Welkos!
(Photo: Kitsch as Kitsch can. Cheapness behind glass. Why? What do they really think. That someone would steal this? And why are the costumes then not behind glass, literally dropped on the floor and in front of the feet of the visitors in awe! Or more in shock? Go on eBay – the MM clay mask goes for as low as $2.99 (or less). Create your own exhibit. Follow Otto&Co, and scam the world. You’ll be rich in a heart beat. Call the Queen Mary and have your own exhibit!)
It’s one thing to be the “center of media attention for a night, but it’s another to tour with a fraudulent exhibit for years to come. Ticket sales are close to reaching the million dollar mark. We are demanding an investigation. These people have gone too far!
(Photo: The people who are supposed to protect her brought Marilyn Monroe only agony. Strange, the wig that Marilyn is wearing on this picture, is owned by Mark Roesler, the only item he bought in ’99 at Christie’s. He also drove up the price for MM’s piano, that was bought by Mariah Carey for $662,500 – through shill bidding. This way he made his boss, Anna Strasberg a little fortune, while she was looking down at the bidding crowd with a glass of champagne in her hand. Making $13,405,785 in a day and a half! Also very telling is that this real wig is not on display in Long Beach. Photo courtesy of The Mark Bellinghaus collection)
BIG LIE #2
If Otto’s crappy collection is the real thing, then why are items (as much as five different ones so far) being taken off display? Pulled!
• The now-famous hair curlers are gone. Self-promoting psychic James Van Praagh prominently fondled Marilyn’s hair curlers on TV — and apparently communicated with her — but it was easy for Mark Bellinghaus to establish that the curlers were manufactured 12 years after her death. In the interest of “refreshing” (as they called it), the Queen Mary exhibit, the cowards hid the curlers. Gotcha!
• When Entertainment Tonight rebroadcast its episode featuring Van Praagh, the silly old fraud had been completely edited out!
(Photo: REAL! A signed autograph book page inscribed: “To Dorothy Warmest Regards Marilyn Monroe” . In times of heavy eBay fraud, these real autographs are almost impossible to find. Courtesy of and owned by The Mark Bellinghaus collection)
• A newsletter from CMG highlighted another item from the show: a fishing tackle box said to contain a “Happy fishing” note from Marilyn to Giuseppe (Joe). The box on display is closed … but the note is reproduced in the CMG newsletter and it’s large enough to clearly show that it’s definitely not Marilyn’s handwriting.
(Photo: FAKE! Absolutely and without the slightest doubt. Shocking, what these people are trying to pass off as Marilyn Monroe’s memorabilia, attached to the tales of June DiMaggio and Robert W. Otto. Photo courtesy The Indianapolis Star)
• The Marilyn exhibit started out in Indianapolis, in the CMG headquarters and home to chairman and CEO Mark Roesler and his army of lawyers. The show stayed there from December 2004 and continued January 17th of 2005. Admission was $25. Apparently the creators of the hoax exhibit had no problems with the show until they went looking for more victims . . . when they tried to bring it to Marilyn’s hometown, Los Angeles.
• Donelle Dadigan, founder and President of the Hollywood History Museum , told us of her adventure with Roesler, Otto, and Co. The Museum agreed to display the exhibit, and spent $50K to have it shipped to Los Angeles. Donelle sought to insure the exhibit, and Otto assured her that Roesler would do so … but then SURPRISE – Roesler did not agree, he would not verify or appraise the junk! He’s many other things, but he’s not stupid. They became concerned that there wasn’t a single photo to document or authenticate any item.
(Photo: FAKE! A piece of 70′s luggage. Definitely not Marilyn Monroe’s! The golden MM monogram is Otto’s standard explanation, for the fake “MD” coat, the fake June-jeans, the fake jewelry and all the other dubious junk, that was never even made when Monroe was alive.)
• When the Museum started unpacking, they suspected fraud: they found 3 different pairs of shoes in three different sizes; luggage manufactured after MM’s death; a girdle with a J.C. Penny tag, etc. “That really got us jumping up and down, feeling someone was trying to pull a fast one on us,” said the museum’s attorney George G. Braunstein, who initiated legal action to get their money back.
• Johnny Grant, Hollywood’s so-called honorary mayor, was friends with Marilyn and accompanied her to Korea where she sang for the troops, so he quickly spotted her USO identification card in the would-be exhibit as being a cheap photocopy. Just like the marriage certificate that is on display. Ouch!
• Rudely rejected by Hollywood, the Marilyn Monroe carpetbaggers moved on to Long Beach.
(Photo: Queen Mary display case full of worthless thrift store trash. Brand new satin gloves, MM engraved mirrors and stupid wannabe Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. Disastrous and sickening to watch this. Outrageous how these amateurs portray Marilyn Monroe. She was not a dumb bimbo who would have rhinestones attached to anything she owned. Roesler, Otto & Co created a Monroe freak. Photo courtesy of Mark Bellinghaus)
BIG LIE #3
But she’s not giving up. We absolutely proved her a liar, when she claimed, in her 12/05 Playboy story, “As I was riding along with my uncle Joe to Marilyn’s funeral.” Mary Jane Popp (June’s partner-in-crime) is NOW stating that June never said that . . . that she was referring to the funeral of another family member. Yeah, right!
But we still have our witness to Marilyn’s funeral, pallbearer Allan Abbott, who stood at the door of the chapel, checking off names against the guest list given him by Joe DiMaggio.
(Photo: 8/8/62 Daily News article that names the specific shows and no-shows of people at Marilyn Monroe’s funeral. NO JUNE DIMAGGIO! And an information on the side: Lee Strasberg is always credited for the wonderful Eulogy–that one was written by poet and MM close friend Carl Sandburg, who put his heart into the last words for Marilyn Monroe. Lee Strasberg read it and acted it out. We know the words, it is on tape as well. The last song played for the legend: “Somewhere over the rainbow.” Courtesy of the Mark Bellinghaus collection)
June now also says that she retrieved her pizza pan from Marilyn’s home several days later, not on the night she died. Whatever. And who is going to believe her after she changes her stories like a chameleon changes its colors.
Were Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio to remarry? June says she has the marriage license. But how could they? Joe was still a good Catholic, and Marilyn was still Jewish: she never reconverted after her marriage to Arthur Miller.
Marilyn had made reservations again at a Hotel in Mexico for September 15, to see boyfriend Jose Bolanos. During her first trip to Mexico in early 1962, where she met Bolanos, and where she bought Mexican furniture and many other artifacts for her Brentwood hacienda, she also made a $1000 donation to the Institute for Needy Children. There were rumors that she might adopt a Mexican baby.
(Photo: Angelina Jolie does what Marilyn wanted: to adopt a baby. The Daily News article, 8/8/62 regarding the reservations for September 15, 1962 and the adoption rumors. Courtesy of the Mark Bellinghaus collection.)
(Photo: Hand in hand, a radiant and stunningly beautiful Marilyn in March of 1962, with the last love of her life in tow–26 year old Mexican heart throb, screenwriter (“La Cuccaracha“) and director Jose Bolanos. The two had many ideas and plans for the future. This was 44 years before “Demi & Ashton“! Marilyn was 9 years his senior–she was always ahead of her time. It is believed that Jose made one of the last phone calls to her Brentwood home before she died. At last, Marilyn seemed to have found some love and happiness in her so tragic, sad and super short life. We still can feel the wonderful energy between them, just looking at them together. What a great couple they were. Marilyn booked a Hotel in Mexico City for September 15th (Mexican Independence Day). That should be enough fact, for June DiMaggio to shut up forever. Can anybody picture Joe DiMaggio asking Marilyn to marry him again, after those photos of Marilyn and Jose went around the world? Marilyn and Joe were friends, that’s all. Marilyn lived a new life! That’s all. Photo courtesy of the Mark Bellinghaus collection)
Mrs. Popp has announced that June’s long-awaited “biography” will be published on June 1st, which will be Marilyn’s 80th birthday — another shameful move from these exotic birds — to honor a legend with another “book of a million little lies!”
Will this be the next Oprah/Frey book controversy? No way, we’re dealing with amateurs here.
(Photo: It is easy to track Marilyn Monroe memorabilia! This stunning silver gown Miss Monroe is wearing is owned by collector Greg Schreiner, and the white fox fur stole is owned by and part of the Mark Bellinghaus collection. That stole was one of MM’s trademarks, as she would wear it for several movie premieres and in the movie How To Marry A Millionaire.” We know where most of Miss Monroe’s items went. Even after Christie’s ’99 auction. The collectors circle is small and not a jealous one, and people know each other or of each other. Until very recently, we never heard the name Robert W. Otto, at all! However, Mr. Bellinghaus witnessed Otto and Roesler being together at the historic Christie’s auction in 1999. Otto himself did not win one lot there. Photo courtesy of the Mark Bellinghaus collection.
BIG LIE #4
• The greed of Anna Strasberg. The advertising and promotion for the QM show prominently features Marilyn’s likeness and signature – which means The Estate of Marilyn Monroe, i.e., Anna Strasberg, is involved, that Anna is getting her share of the $22.95 admission fee.
• We will remind you of the May 14, 1994, Odyssey auction which offered Marilyn’s personal items from a trusted business associate, of Marilyn’s (Inez Melson), who had later passed them on to a relative (Millington Conroy).
Anna Strasberg successfully sued to stop that auction, claiming the items legally belonged to her. She performed for a packed courtroom, tearfully swearing and promising that she would never, never sell any of Marilyn’s belongings. And the judge took her word for it. But you might say that Anna lied under oath: eleven years later (on June 4, 2005), Anna Strasberg sold those very same items at a Julien’s auction in Los Angeles. For one item alone — Marilyn’s personal phone book — Anna took home $90,000.
The Wall Street Journal, on April 10, 2006, quotes Roger Richman on Mrs. Strasberg’s business philosophy as “keep making money.”
Mrs. Strasberg’s own lawyer William Wegner, says: “Anna thinks about and handles Ms. Monroe’s imgage from the moment she wakes up.”
(Photo: The Marilyn Monroe phone book, which sold for $90K in June 2005. It was acquired in an Oscar-worthy performance by actress Anna Strasberg. Anna’s place in the history of MM is nothing be proud of. Mrs. Anna Strasberg: Shame on you! Courtesy of Julien’s)
• Susan Strasberg (1938-1999), daughter of Lee and Paula, is one of the sadder figures in this drama (see Patricia Bosworth’s 2/04 Vanity Fair story). Susan’s daughter Jennifer has recently started legal action against the Estate of Marilyn Monroe – i.e., Anna Strasberg. Stay tuned for details about the “evil stepmother” who immediately put Marilyn’s belongings onto the auction block after Susan Strasberg died of cancer in 1999!
Susan’s brother John Strasberg says that he and his late sister Susan were close to Ms. Monroe, but were disinherited by their father Lee and never received any of the Monroe earnings. “I am not sure I would want any of it” John says. “I find it sad that people who never knew Marilyn continue to profit from her, and in the lowest form possible.”
• The Mark Bellinghaus masterpiece has been saved for last: Mark bought the domain names – it’s legal, read the Julia Roberts case – for Mark A. Roesler
(MarkARoesler.com), Anna Strasberg (AnnaStrasberg.com), Robert W. Otto (RobertWOtto.com), and June DiMaggio (JuneDiMaggio.com). Click on any of those names and it will take you directly to … the Mark Bellinghaus website, which spells out the whole ugly Roesler/Strasberg/Otto/June DiMaggio affair.
The idea was to put the shoe on the other foot, to change the viewpoint, to ask this squalid quartet: “How does it feel to have your name taken over and used by someone who has no respect for you – the way you are doing with Marilyn Monroe? Exactly the way you are doing with Marilyn.”
He also bought the domain MarilynMonroeScam.com and the very easy to remember:mmfraud.com, which has already been mentioned on podcasts and many other fan sites all over the world. THANK YOU ALL! Please check out Melinda Mason’s “My Marilyn” podcast. The power of the new blog media has found it’s first big victory, a triumph, that has all the ingredients to make it to the mainstream media and to be a huge success.
• CMG gives lip service to its roster of stars and celebrities by creating fan clubs around the world. That’s hardly enough. Roesler’s Web site features his Rules for Success – but it’s missing one important word: RESPECT! Roesler and Co. must show more respect for the immortals it represents, to MARILYN and to the dead.
• THIS JUST IN! Mark has officially been threatened with legal action from CMG regarding the domain of Roesler (you can find the official letter on his Website), which claims they win every case. Well, there’s a first time for everything. And they’ve never dealt with someone like Mark Bellinghaus.
• This article will no doubt also take on a life of its own, so we will probably update, as there’s news coming in daily – stay tuned.
We need to keep the public updated, about scandals surrounding the scandal.
Like for example, if you log on to the Roesler website, you find him talking about the great things he has done, giving money for a hospital room for victims of sexual assault (he put a big plaque with his own name on the wall of that room!). But what this man is withholding in his webcast interview is, that staff writer Peter Annis from THE NOBLESVILLE LEDGER.COM reported on March 20th:
“Roesler donated proceeds from a Marilyn Monroe exhibit at CMG’s headquarters in December.”
We find it “wonderful,” that someone scams the public for lots of money, then “donates” some money he makes from that crime for a good cause (to honor his dead sister and himself) and puts a plaque on the wall. On that very plaque, Mr. Bellinghaus found the “A” for Mr. Roesler’s middle name, and then bought the available domain.
We are ready to explain this to any judge. His domain, and the other ones were bought in good faith and to warn the world of the doings of and about all of them, but most important Anna Strasberg and Mark A. Roesler!
So, Mr. Roesler’s clients are immortal, and now he wants to be too?
We find this detail very telling for and about this man.
Another suggestion for his “RULES FOR SUCCESS” on his website: Tell the truth, always, have respect for the people you represent, especially Marilyn Monroe, and close that criminal exhibit, now!
Do these characters who are involved in this, seriously believe that they are getting away with it?
Happy belated 80th birthday Mr. Hugh Hefner! We find it very sad, that you have kept so quiet about all this – we know that Mark Roesler is also your lawyer. We just find it very sad that you recently apologized to Jessica Alba, but what about the nasty interview and the nastier picture of Marilyn that Playboy published? Are you now going to rest next to Miss Alba, instead next to Miss Monroe some day? We just wonder.
After his first story, Mark Bellinghaus received thousands of emails from upset fans of Marilyn Monroe from all over the world.
One email especially gave him great hope. A young girl, still in high school, who does not seem to know the brutality of showbiz, and who want to become the next Marilyn Monroe, wrote:”I pray for you and your mission every night. For the defense of Marilyn who I love so dearly, and believe you me, the truth will always come to light!”
We believe her and we are not going to disappoint her, or Marilyn Monroe.
(Photo: Courtesy of The Kim Goodwin collection, the black cashmere turtleneck sweater that Miss Monroe is wearing on this photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, is owned by and part of The Mark Bellinghaus collection)
Mark Bellinghaus, actor turned collector and authority on Marilyn Monroe; and
Ernest W. Cunningham, author of The Ultimate Marilyn, and he stands 100% behind Mark Bellinghaus’ investigation and findings.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Blogcritics.org.