World's most expensive dress, worn by Marilyn Monroe for JFK, goes on display

This is what Monroe was wearing when she sang Happy Birthday to John F Kennedy, three months before she died

Marilyn Monroe's dress sold for almost five million dollars at auction. Eric Kayne/AP Images for Ripley's Believe It or Not!)

On May 19, 1962, when then American president John F Kennedy turned 45, Marilyn Monroe famously sang Happy Birthday in front of a cheering crowd at Madison Square Garden (see video below).

Last year, Ripley’s Believe It or Not acquired the rhinestone-studded dress that Monroe was wearing at the time, from Julien’s Auctions – for a whopping US$4.8 million (Dh17.6 million), 400 times more than the original cost.

The dress, deemed the most expensive in the world, is currently on display at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

A Marilyn Monroe lookalike at the unveiling of the dress. Eric Kayne / AP Images for Ripley's Believe It or Not!

The shimmering outfit was designed by Oscar-winning costume designer Jean Louis. The flesh-coloured dress was so snug that Monroe had to be sewed into it before the celebration, so as not to destroy any of the 2,500 crystals it’s embellished with. Apparently, this process delayed the actress’s entry on to the stage, causing host Peter Lawford – JFK’s brother-in-law – to greet “the late Marilyn Monroe”, an ominous proclamation given that the troubled actress was found dead just three months later.

The dress will be on display until September 5.

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