Did you see that psychic on Entertainment Tonight in December, James Van Praagh? He had one of Marilyn Monroe’s hair curlers — it even had a Marilyn hair on it — and this guy was listening to Marilyn talk to him right on the air. Spooky!
(Photo: Psychic James Van Praagh, on Entertainment Tonight, December 2nd, 2005, holding up a “hair of Marilyn Monroe”)
Those curlers are a highlight of “Marilyn Monroe, The Exhibit,” a display that opened November 11, 2005, on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California; advertised as the largest private collection of Marilyn memorabilia ever assembled, a collection with the claimed worth of $10 million dollars.
But I have a small problem with those hair curlers: it took only the briefest Internet research and a call to Clairol to establish that they were first manufactured in 1974. Marilyn passed away in 1962. I wonder which dead blonde Van Praagh WAS talking to.
(Photo: A highlight “Marilyn Monroe, The Exhibit” – a Clairol 20 Instant hairsetter from 1974. Monroe died in 1962)
The hair curlers are not authentic and that “$10 million” exhibit isn’t worth more than $25 to $30 thousand. The people behind the exhibit are not telling the truth.
The principals in this story are:
ROBERT W. OTTO, 56, President of Marilyn Monroe Exhibits;
MARK ROESLER, 50, head and founder of CMG licensing;
JUNE DiMAGGIO, 82, who claims to be a niece of Joe DiMaggio and a close friend of Marilyn;
MARY JANE POPP, 55 (?), actress, infomercial and radio host, she is helping June write her story;
HUGH HEFNER, 79, Mr. Playboy, he gives credit to Marilyn for his magazine’s success, but threw her to the wolves.
(Photo: The December, 2005, issue, with three Monroe articles by Lisa DePaulo and the worst photo ever published of Marilyn Monroe. Bravo, Mr. Heffner.)
Let’s begin with the most outrageous character, June DiMaggio. Who is she? The last name itself generates interest and memories of the sweet past, the Yankee Clipper, Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.” But now I want to change the famous lyric of the latter to “Where have you come from, June DiMaggio?” She appeared out of nowhere, joining the media circus without explaining where she was hiding while her legendary uncle Joe was alive.
CBS is reportedly planning a 48 Hours special on Marilyn Monroe this month, supposedly with June DiMaggio, and we look forward to the funny but absurd little stories she seems to have dreamed up and written down in her fictional “memoir,” Marilyn, Joe and Me!, her “what if?” journal.
I watched her last November during the press opening for “Marilyn Monroe, The Exhibit” at the Queen Mary, and it was a weird, unreal experience – like a theatre performance gone bad. When talking about Marilyn, she shouted and stuttered, then regained her composure and resumed (it seemed to me) her rehearsed lines.
Let’s begin with her most excusable untruth, her age. She claims to be 77, but for a former actress and dancer, knocking five years off is forgivable; not so when it comes to twisting facts and fabricating fictions about one of the biggest and best-loved movie stars of the 20th century. June says she was great friends with Marilyn Monroe, and that her mother, Lee, wife of Tom DiMaggio (one of Joe’s eight siblings), was Marilyn’s closest friend and even knew who murdered her. Lee was supposedly chatting with Marilyn on the phone when the killer walked into the icon’s bedroom. Lee never told, because “she wanted her children to live.”
(Photo: Mary Jane Popp, June DiMaggio, Robert W. Otto, Hugh Heffner, left to right)
During June DiMaggio’s November interviews, her co-writer Mary Jane Popp — actress, infomercial and radio host — always stood close by her side and sometimes gave the answers for her. In some ways June reminded me of a marionette being dragged from one stage to the next, with her explosive news on Marilyn Monroe. She gave interviews even in the hallways, repeating over and over, “THAT IS THE TRUTH!” and “YOU CAN READ ALL ABOUT THIS IN MY BOOK!”
CBS recently referred to June as “the last DiMaggio,” but that’s not so: Joe’s baseball-playing brother Dom is still with us. When I called him at his home in Florida, Dom DiMaggio confirmed to me that “June DiMaggio is not the biological daughter of my brother Tom.” So June is related, but only through her mother Lee – she is a step-DiMaggio.
(Photo: Two of Monroe’s personal address books, which sold at Christie’s to a Spanish collector on September 20th, 2001 for $ 18,213. The names of June and Lee DiMaggio are not present in any of the four known Monroe address books)
In my research, I find no evidence at all that Monroe was even friendly with Lee or June DiMaggio. A San Francisco newspaper story on Marilyn and Joe’s wedding has Lee and Tom on the guest list, but June is not mentioned. The names of Lee and June do not appear in any of the four known Monroe personal address books. How do I know? I know the owners of these books and asked them to look for me. June DiMaggio and her mother Lee are not listed in any of them, while, for example, Joe DiMaggio and his son Joe Jr. are present in all of them.
In the December Playboy interview, June DiMaggio claims to have attended the funeral of Marilyn Monroe (“as I was riding along with my uncle Joe in a limousine…”). There are numerous photos of Joe’s limo for that day – none include June DiMaggio.
(Photo: Inside the limousine the day of the funeral: Joe DiMaggio, his son, Joe Jr, unidentified driver and passenger, but where is June DiMaggio? She claims to have been riding with her famous uncle that day. Maybe she was in the trunk)
We also have a witness who can testify to June’s absence: funeral director Allan Abbott, 68, was a pallbearer at Marilyn’s funeral. At Joe DiMaggio’s request, he also stood at the door checking off the names on the brief guest list, handing programs to each person on the list. He told me he’d never heard the name June DiMaggio in his life. Ernest Cunningham’s book The Ultimate Marilyn identifies the small group of invited guests – June is missing.
(Photo by Leigh Wiener: as Marilyn Monroe’s casket is being introduced to her final resting place, Allan Abbot on the corner to the coffin, Joe DiMaggio and his son are sitting in the second row. Again: where is June DiMaggio?)
Allan Abbott was 24 at the time Monroe was buried, but his memory is still fresh. This man’s statement was the true reason I continued in my investigations. My deepest appreciation goes out to him, a man who had the honor of carrying Marilyn Monroe’s casket to her crypt where we can still visit her, pay tribute, and weep.
(Photo: The lipstick and flower-covered crypt of the Hollywood legend)
June is the latest in a long line of Marilyn frauds: men and women coming out of nowhere, claiming to be Marilyn Monroe’s son or daughter (or husband or lover, whatever). There’s a man claiming to be the illegitimate son of Marilyn and JFK, insisting that the three of them had lived openly in Marilyn’s Brentwood home. There was Robert Slatzer, who passed away last year, who claimed (with nothing to document it) that he had been married to Marilyn.
(Photo: The cover of THE NATIONAL TATTLER on Jan. 26, 1969 – June DiMaggio is just one in a long list of people who claim a dubious connection with Marilyn Monroe)
Publicity for the Queen Many exhibit states that 90% of the Monroe memorabilia was bought from June DiMaggio and Joe Franklin. June says she got her items directly from Marilyn. The problem is that there’s nothing to prove that any of the June junk is authentic – no photos, no documentation. (Unless you’re willing to accept the word of the ET psychic.) The other items are from eBay and from questionable sellers, some of whom are being investigated by the FBI.
How do you authenticate an item? Keep reading, I’ll explain it in a bit.
(Photo: Robert W. Otto, CEO of the Marilyn Monroe exhibit, and famous psychic James van Praagh, on Entertainment Tonight, aired 12/02/2005)
The next player in this trashy affair is Robert W. Otto, who came to collector’s fame overnight. In an interview with Los Angeles Times writer Robert W. Welkos, on November 11, 2005, Otto explained the reason that no other Marilyn collectors had ever heard of him:
“Because I kept a low profile and courted those people who actually knew Marilyn and acquired items from them.”
Otto also mentioned NYC radio host Joe Franklin, who has sold many items from the famous guests who had appeared on his show. But here again, not ONE item came with a picture of Marilyn wearing it. Not one! Otto also says, “I also chose not to collect the bigger show pieces.”
Okay, so what about the strapless pink gown that Marilyn famously wore while singing “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”? A press release says that it’s on display at the entrance to the exhibit
(Photo: Welcoming the visitor: a copy of a famous Marilyn Monroe costume — NOT THE ORIGINAL — displayed in an almost frightening way)
. . . but it’s just a cheap copy. You can find it on eBay for $25.00.
In all fairness, the exhibit has a few real Monroe-owned pieces, but Otto purchased them when they were offered the second or third time around (when nobody placed a bid on them). There’s a green Pucci combo which originally sold as Lot #288 in the big Christie’s auction in 1999. This item came up again, this time in a Profiles In History auction on March 31, 2004. When it didn’t sell, Otto bought it for below the original estimate. In any interview for the promotion of the exhibit, he made sure that this particular combo would be visible in the background.
Otto visited but didn’t participate in the huge Monroe estate sale at Christie’s, though he has subsequently bought items on eBay or at live auctions which originated there. Mixing lesser authentic items into a collection grounded in fraud is still fraud..
(Photo: In December of 2004, Otto and Roessler held their first exhibit in their Indianapolis Legends Museum, note that the pink dress, which is displayed next to the real green Pucci combo originated from eBay and was sold by Frank Warren on eBay, who was kicked off that site. Otto bought this dress for a few hundred dollars. The white dress also has no authentication. Also note the classy cardboard display)
I have in my possession signed witness statements from several Marilyn collectors who can identify items in the Queen Mary exhibit as being bought through eBay.
Robert Otto contacted me as well, in July of 2004, under his eBay screen name “PinkDoodleDandy1″ (nomen est omen?), seeking to buy Marilyn memorabilia. I first thought he was kidding when he offered me a jokingly low amount for a Marilyn belt. She was wearing this item when she walked out of her 508 N. Palm Drive, Beverly Hills home, tearfully announcing to the press that she was getting a divorce from Joe DiMaggio.
She wore the same belt when she revealed that she was going to marry Arthur Miller. I have photos of her wearing the belt, which was made by JAX. I bought the belt at the Christie’s sale.
(Photos: Two important announcements in the life of Marilyn Monroe, one belt)
In the L.A. Times interview, Otto was also asked why there were no photos of Marilyn wearing the clothing on display. His answer was that, as with anyone else, the clothing Marilyn wore in private didn’t appear in photos.
Is that so? Look at the photo here: it shows Marilyn in nothing but private clothing! She hung on to these checkered pants she had worn as Norma Jeane, posing on the beach for numerous private shoots. Later, she wore them for top photographers like the legendary Alfred Eisenstaedt.
Those same pants are visible in numerous photo sessions throughout her career – proving that she was a very simple person, and that she held on to the items she’d had before she became a mega-star, sex symbol, and the most photographed woman in the world.
(Photos: Marilyn Monroe, outside her 882 N.Doheny Dr. home, the black turtleneck sweater she also wore in Korea, my latest purchase at auction, originating from the estate of Marilyn Monroe, photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt; and having a “private moment” with then husband Joe DiMaggio and wearing favorite black and white checkered pants, made by JAX)
Moving right along . . .
On her last day, August 4th, Marilyn supposedly asked June to make her an anchovy pizza, and June says she did. But then Junie goes way too far – she claims she went to Monroe’s home, after the star’s body was removed, to retrieve her pizza pan. But it was a crime scene; all doors had been sealed by the LAPD. But June apparently walked into the house unnoticed, retrieved her precious pizza pan — plus a teddy bear and one of Marilyn’s nightgowns — all of them now prominently on display in Otto’s exhibition on the Queen Mary. There is no way any of this could have happened. Also, if Monroe really ate that anchovy pizza, or anything else for that matter, why did the autopsy find no food in her stomach?
(Photo by Leigh Wiener: ALL doors were sealed by the LAPD, not only the front door. Note that the Spanish Hacienda has no attic)
June DiMaggio’s book was announced for December ’05. Did the publisher get cold feet? Maybe he was nervous after the Oprah Winfrey/James Frey scare? When pitching her book, June promised, “Any female who buys my book will receive a copy of the pre-engagement ring my uncle gave to Marilyn!” This is just another tale without any proof. And PROOF is what I was looking for all through my investigation.
My colleague Sherry Dodd actually interviewed June DiMaggio and asked if she owned any pictures of herself with either her famous uncle, baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, or her famous friend of eleven years, Marilyn Monroe. Her answer was a simple, “No, I do not, I am sorry!” That answer added to the suspicions I had had from the start: how can someone NOT have any sort of documentation for the serious and spectacular claims she makes?
“But it happened!” she says.
There is more literature on Marilyn Monroe than on most American presidents. But after decades of extensive research, the name of good-friend June is not found in any of the Marilyn books. Why? And why has June DiMaggio waited all these years to come forward with her story? Could it be that she waited until Joe DiMaggio was dead, unable to refute any of her statements?
If you’ve seen the advertising for the exhibit — billboards, newspaper ads, banners — you will have noticed Marilyn’s trademarked signature, which indicates that the estate of Marilyn Monroe approves.
The estate of Marilyn Monroe is standing behind the exhibit (also as a sponsor), scheduled to tour the world, asking unsuspecting people to pay an outrageous $22.95 per person to see the most absurd and possibly the tackiest presentation of Marilyn Monroe-related items ever.
(Photo: The General Admission ticket, which shows a mirror image of Marilyn Monroe and states: “….This exhibit is the world’s largest private collection of Marilyn artifacts ever assembled. The exhibit on display at the Queen Mary features intimate pieces of personal property owned by the most famous glamorous icon of the 20th century”)
Mark Roesler, 46, the head and founder of the CMG licensing agency, represents Marilyn Monroe and, strangely enough, the estate of Joe DiMaggio as well. He is also the executor of Anna Strasberg, the second wife and widow of Lee Strasberg, Marilyn’s acting coach. He represents James Dean and many more of the dead Who’s Who of the entertainment industry. Roesler is supporting Robert W. Otto’s exhibit, calling it “the largest collection of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia in the world,” which is absolute nonsense. Roesler has several interviews on his website, which further proves the collaboration of convenience between June DiMaggio, Robert Otto and him.
On his weekly live webcast, Roesler twice invited Otto into his CMG office and together they went through the would-be Marilyn items with Otto weaving stories about them out of thin air.
For example, Otto showed an engraved bracelet and created an elaborate story, as if he had been there in person, explaining exactly when, where and why Marilyn owned that particular item. You are almost tempted to believe him . . . but I have witnesses that the man is everything but an “historian of Marilyn Monroe,” as Roesler introduced him.
Roesler had two different Otto interviews on his web site, which have been subsequently pulled.
In one interview with Roesler, Otto mentions how they were together at the 1999 Christie’s auction, and indicates how much money a pair of Monroe’s Ferragamo stilettos had sold for. Then Otto holds up the Clairol hair rollers which I described earlier. I was dumbfounded to see all these items, because I recognized many of them from earlier eBay auctions. I’ll say it again: none of the items originated from the estate of Marilyn Monroe, owned by Anna Strasberg, client of Mark Roesler.
(Photo: Robert W. Otto, Hugh Heffner, Mark Roesler, left to right)
If “Marilyn Monroe: the Exhibit” were authentic, it would truly be an experience to walk through and to feel the essence, the private and personal taste of a rare and unique legend!
(Photo: The cover of the Christie’s auction catalog. On 415 pages and 576 Lots were belongings from the estate of Marilyn Monroe. The biggest and most publicized Monroe live auction, ever)
The only time I felt the power and presence of REAL Marilyn Monroe memorabilia was when I walked through the preview display for the 1999 Christie’s auction. The highlight was the presentation of the “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” gown – which was rolled out in dimmed light, with the familiar voice of Marilyn singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President . . . and when spotlights hit the rhinestones, still sparkling after 37 years, I got goosebumps all over. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
(Photo: Lot # 55, the most expensive gown ever sold at auction: The “Happy Birthday Mr. President dress” which sold at Christie’s in 1999 for $1,267,500)
The Otto exhibit is obviously trying to copy that experience, which is just impossible. Consider the blond wig that he claims is from the movie Some Like it Hot, and which is displayed front to back (why, if not for people to see how new it is?) but which could have been bought on Hollywood Blvd. (or Times Square)! To my knowledge — and I was present when he won his bid — the only item that Mark Roessler purchased was the wig Monroe wore in the movie The Misfits, which sold as Lot #350 for a whopping $29,900.
(Photo: The Misfits wig)
Now comes my question: Why is that wig not on display on the Queen Mary?
But you don’t need to be an expert to tell the difference between the wig that Roesler won, and the brand new wig in the Otto collection. If they were displayed together, anyone could tell the difference: the real one was stored for 37 years and the natural deterioration is visible. Such deterioration is missing from the wig on display. Also, most of the dresses look to be in excellent condition, as if they had just been picked up from the dry cleaner.
(Photo: People magazine, August 16, 1999, the originals)
(Photo: And the fakes: note the resemblance to the People magazine display from ’99)
(Photo: Almost! The red dress looks almost like the ORIGINAL, except that it is way too shiny, new (at most, 10 years old) and sold on eBay for nothing. The security guard makes it look really expensive)
Marilyn’s favorite brands are well known: JAX, MADCAP, Geistex, Jaeger, Emilio Pucci, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ferragamo and others . . . none of which are on display on the Queen Mary, except for the green Pucci described earlier.
There’s another story from June that I’d never heard. She says she gave Marilyn a painted mirror, which the star always carried. The mirror is displayed next to a pair of deteriorating shoes – and these got my interest, because of the state they were in. Finally, an authentic piece? No such luck. The shoes have red and green rhinestones attached and are simply too much for Marilyn: we know that she dressed very simply in private. And I can assure you that if we made DNA tests of the real hair of Marilyn that I own (included in Anna Strasberg’s treasures from storage), then we could also prove these are most likely thriftstore finds or even June DiMaggio’s relics, but definitely not shoes that Marilyn wore!
(Photo: the mirrors and the unimaginable shoes on a Marilyn Monroe for private use)
There’s no Marilyn story sadder, more shocking, than that of Bebe Goddard, Marilyn’s foster sister, with whom Marilyn spent part of her teenage years. Bebe sold fraudulent Marilyn items at auctions and over the Internet, and items are still being sold in her name. Letters which prove this charge were found in her belongings after her death and are sad witness to the sellout of a legend. Bebe Goddard’s items are restricted from the traditional auction houses like Christie’s or Sotheby’s, but you’ll find them all over eBay.
Also restricted forever are items from another well-known fraud: Elaine Barrymore, the last wife of the great John Barrymore. Elaine passed away several years ago, but criminal (eBay) sellers are making a fortune in copying her signed letter and selling rubbish as the belongings of Marilyn Monroe. Mr. Otto has quite a collection of Barrymore items.
(Photo: an Elaine Barrymore necklace, worn and owned by anybody BUT Marilyn Monroe)
Also in the Queen Mary exhibit is a pair of white cat-eye sunglasses, also in brand-new condition. I have in my collection two pairs of original and real glasses (also originating from the estate of Marilyn Monroe), with deterioration that has almost destroyed them – but that is the beauty of it; because that is also a sign of its authenticity.
(Photo: the brand-new and over the top looking Marilyn Monroe sunglasses)
I could go on and on but let me just mention a few more items: a fur jacket with the initials MD (Marilyn DiMaggio), which comes with an absurd, never-before-heard story: “Joe gave this jacket to Marilyn, but she got upset because she liked her stage name so much.” June continued with all these strange and never-before-heard accusations, which convinced me that June had met Marilyn as often as I had – and she died before I was born.
Then there’s the engraving myth! Almost 50% of the jewelry in Otto’s collection has “MM” engravings, and even the travel bags and suitcase (in uncommon red) carry MM engravings. That is absolutely wrong: in the bona fide Christie’s estate sale there was only one item (aside from the trophies and awards that she had won) that was engraved, and that was not by Monroe, but for her!
Otto and Co. tried to create a Monroe the way they wanted to see her: in the way they saw her, for example, in the August 16, 1999, People magazine feature on the big Christie’s auction. The Queen Mary exhibit has items very similar in style to those from Christie’s, but which any expert could identify as phony. Otto is displaying just too many items with rhinestones attached, which shows no knowledge of Marilyn’s personal likes and dislikes.
(Photo: MM posed with a tennis racket, but never played that sport, note the shoes, it would have been fatal)
There’s Marilyn’s tennis racket . . . but we know she hated all sports and was only posing with a racket for photos. Also note that she’s wearing high heels! June says she taught Monroe how to type and, by sheer coincidence, there’s the typewriter in Otto’s exhibit. And so on.
Does June Dimaggio or Otto have any sort of photographic proof? Since Monroe was the most photographed woman in the world, surely it would have been a simple matter to have a snapshot of Marilyn and June happily sitting at the piano; the very piano which June DiMaggio says Marilyn used to rehearse her “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” song.
The storytelling goes on and on and people seriously seem to believe her, but June goes too far; goes overboard with her accusations, as from her overdue book:
“Since Marilyn was always welcome in our home, I kept a terrycloth robe for her to lounge in after a shower, along with a clean T-shirt and a pair of her own jeans for her to change into.”
And, “Marilyn couldn’t afford emotions when she had to sleep with wrinkled old men to survive the business.”
“There were times when she would come home exhausted from a day’s shoot and some powerful old geezer would telephone and her skin would crawl. After the horrors of her studio sex she would come over and stay in our shower for an hour or more. She wanted to wash away the terrible indignities she’d had to endure. Then she’d sit down to dinner and ask for second helpings.”
(excerpts from Marilyn, Joe and Me, by June DiMaggio, as told to Mary Jane Popp, copyright December 2005, Authentic Creations Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. “Special thanks to Robert W. Otto, president and CEO of Marilyn Monroe Exhibits LLC, for his assistance.”)
Naturally, those jeans are displayed on the Queen Mary, as June must have known that they would be worth something, five decades later. We are presented with Marilyn Monroe, the Star of the ’50s, in Portrait of a Sex Slave. Absolute nonsense!
(Photo: The inside of one of the numerous display cases of the “$10 million” exhibit. No comment)
Paying visitors to the exhibit also should know that Otto includes in his collection the most trivial and inexpensive items: dozens of bottles of MM wine, MM dolls, paper doll cutouts, insignificant books, plates, handbags, and such distasteful items as a doll of Marilyn as a troll. There’s a bobble-head Marilyn doll at the entrance to the exhibit, which should tip you off as to what’s in store.
(Photo: The “Doll Salon”)
Hugh Hefner is included in this documentation of wrongs committed against Marilyn and the paying public because he has always freely admitted his indebtedness to Marilyn, when her sensational “Golden Dreams” nude photo helped launch her career and his.
Hefner lent his presence to the opening night of the Marilyn exhibit and devoted the cover of the December Playboy and three feature stories to her, and it would be hard to say which one is most disgusting.
Story #1 was a rehash of Marilyn the Murder Mystery, which begins with a reference to Marilyn’s attic being stuffed with sophisticated listening devices . . . this in a dollhouse of a Spanish hacienda that had no closets, much less an attic!
Story #2 was the ramblings and fantasies of June DiMaggio, already discussed.
Story #3 is the recollections of 88-year-old John Miner, former L.A. deputy district attorney, who says he listened to tape recordings Marilyn made for her psychiatrist. Miner claims that the tapes prove Marilyn was in a non-suicidal mood and so, obviously, she must have been murdered. But the woman Miner transcribes is a silly, frivolous, bobble-head blonde – Lorelei Lee maybe, not Marilyn Monroe. Miner calls for a champion to demand a new autopsy, to prove murder, and apparently Hugh Hefner is going to take up the banner. God help us, and Marilyn.
Heffner long ago bought the crypt next to Marilyn’s in Westwood Memorial Cemetery. He is also, by the way, another client of Mark Roesler.
Tricksters and con men get caught because they don’t do their homework. The Hitler Diaries were a sensation in 1983, and much money changed hands until some suspicious soul found that the paper and the ink in the diaries had been made after the War.
Milli Vanilli was an ’80s pop vocal duo, very popular, until it was revealed that they didn’t really sing on their records – they had to return their Best New Artist Grammy award. One of the two “stars,” Rob Pilatus, later commited suicide. He was only 33 years old, three years younger than Marilyn Monroe when she died.
(Photo: Milli Vanilli at Grammys)
If the people behind the Marilyn deceptions had done their homework, they would have known that haciendas don’t have attics; that hair rollers show the year they were made; that more has been documented about the life of Marilyn Monroe, and more photos taken, than of most any other figure of the 20th century; and therefore we do know quite a bit about her. We know her styles and colors and sizes and designers and flavors. She sang songs about rhinestones, but she didn’t wear them.
We also know that saying something is so doesn’t make it so.
Robert Otto states that his exhibit is to tour for 10 to 12 years, visiting 39 cities on six continents. It must have been a success so far, as it was scheduled to close this month but now it has been extended until June 8th, 2006 – no doubt an attempt to capitalize on Marilyn Monroe’s 80th birthday celebration (on June 1st, 2006) to draw more victims into the show.
I tried to bring this case to the attention of the Long Beach, California, police department, then to city hall, including the mayor’s office (Mayor Beverly O’Neill), the attorney general, the district attorney, the city attorney – and whoever else had an office in that building and seemed important. I wanted an injunction against this fraudulent exhibit. But I found no response, no interest, no reaction at all. I always heard the same excuse: that the Queen Mary is a leased property and the City of Long Beach has no power in that matter.
I thought of handcuffing myself to the historic ocean liner and holding up a protest banner. What if I went on a hunger strike, or even threatened to jump off the ship?
The Queen Mary corporation was contacted, with numerous messages left on their answering machine and numerous messages ignored (incidentally, the corporation has declared bankruptcy). But I did not give up. Knowledge and belief kept me going.
This hoax, this scandal surrounding Marilyn Monroe must be exposed. The exhibit needs to be shut down. Ticket purchasers should ask for their money back. The thriving powers behind the scam should apologize. Though the scam was poorly planned from the beginning, it seems that they are getting away with it. When the estate of Marilyn Monroe sold her personal belongings and most intimate items for $13,404,785 in ’99, they gave away their chance for a 100% authentic exhibit that could have become legendary.
(Photo: The Marilyn Monroe ice sculpture from press opening for the fraudulent exhibit quickly turned into a very unhappy and scary sight)
I consider it a privilege to defend Marilyn Monroe against the people mentioned above. I am not afraid of a lawsuit from the powerful CMG or any of the other figures mentioned, as I have something valuable that they don’t have – PROOF; proof in the form of witness statements, photos, documents, biographical statements, and my own in-depth knowledge, plus encouragement from Marilyn Monroe fans and admirers from all over the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mark Bellinghaus owns one of the most extensive, important and comprehensive Marilyn Monroe collections in the world. It includes movie costumes, personal clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, books, documents, autographs, cancelled checks and other personal items. He has most of the Mexican furnishings from her Brentwood home, including five paintings, mirrors, a table lamp, the famous Chac Mool wall hanging, 26 of her personal books, her trademark white fox stole, massage table, travel bag, Mexican pottery and glass pieces, utensils, pots and kitchen items. He recently bought (real) original hair rollers with strands of blonde hair attached, at an auction which originated from the estate of Marilyn Monroe. Every item is fully documented, most with photos showing Marilyn wearing them.
Bellinghaus, widely regarded as a Marilyn Monroe expert, has been called upon by Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and other major auction houses to authenticate Marilyn items being offered. He has also been a successful actor, writer, and photographer, and has appeared in such movies as The Name of the Rose and many other film, TV and stage productions in his native Germany.
(Photo: Marilyn Monroe — this time is the image correct, with her beautymark on the right side, unlike the mirror image exhibit admission ticket — wearing her famous white fox fur stole, which she wore for uncountable photo ops, premieres (with Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller) and even in one of her signature movies, How To Marry A Millionaire. I am happy beyond words to own the stole; it is a highlight of my collection)