Kim Kardashian did not damage Marilyn Monroe’s dress, Ripley’s says

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After days of outrage online over whether Kim Kardashian damaged Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress by wearing it to the Met Gala earlier this year, Ripley’s Believe It or Not stepped in to squash the claim. The company, which acquired the famous dress several years ago, announced Thursday that a report written on the garment’s condition in early 2017 noted similar damage to what was seen after Kardashian wore it.

The report stated that “a number of the seams are pulled and worn. This is not surprising given how delicate the material is. There is puckering at the back by the hooks and eyes,” in addition to other damage.

“From the bottom of the Met steps, where Kim got into the dress, to the top where it was returned, the dress was in the same condition it started in,” Ripley’s executive Amanda Joiner, vice president of publishing and licensing, added in a statement.

A representative for Kardashian declined to comment.

The theory that Kardashian damaged the dress — which Monroe wore 60 years earlier while serenading President John F. Kennedy with a birthday song — traces back to ChadMichael Morrisette, a collector who photographed the gown earlier this week at the Ripley’s location in Los Angeles after spotting what he believed to be new damage to the garment. He shared the photographs with another collector, who posts on Instagram under the handle @marilynmonroecollection and circulated before and after images in support of Morrisette’s claim.

“Was it worth it?” the Instagram caption reads, directed to Ripley’s.

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The company’s decision to loan Kardashian the frock for the May 2 gala supporting the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute drew the ire of textile conservators and fashion historians who found it risky and disrespectful to the garment’s iconic nature. Fashion designer Bob Mackie, who drew the sketch for the 1962 Jean Louis gown while working as an assistant to the Hollywood costumer, told Entertainment Weekly after this year’s Met Gala that he thought it was a “big mistake” for Kardashian to wear the dress on the red carpet.

Monroe “was a goddess,” Mackie said. “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.”

According to Vogue, Monroe’s custom dress sold twice at auction: once in 1999 for more than a million dollars as part of her estate sale with Christie’s, and again in 2016 when it sold for $4.8 million at a Julien’s Auctions event and was acquired by Ripley’s. The magazine stated that the dress is stored in “a darkened vault that’s controlled at the optimum 68 degrees and 40-50% humidity.” Kardashian said she “had to wear gloves” to try it on.

The dress was too small in parts, according to Kardashian, who said she adhered to a strict diet afterward so the garment would fit in time for the Met Gala. Vogue reported that she wore the dress only for her red carpet appearance, putting it on in a makeshift dressing room near the base of the stairs and changing into a replica after she walked up the steps. A Ripley’s conservationist wearing gloves assisted Kardashian with the process.

Kardashian told Vogue she was “extremely respectful to the dress and what it means to American history.”

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