Its next owner was Martin Zweig, a financier famous for predicting the 1987 stock market crash, and kept in a climate-controlled display case in his penthouse atop the Pierre hotel. Mr. Zweig died in 2013, and three years later his estate contracted with Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, Calif., to sell the dress as part of a wider Monroe sale. Estimated to go for about $2 million, it ultimately sold for $4.8 million to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, which later advertised it as “the world’s most expensive dress!” and kept it in a vault in its museum in Orlando, Fla.
So how did Kim Kardashian get a hold of it?
She asked! Seriously. As she recalled in an interview with Vogue, while musing about the theme of the Met Gala, which was American fashion, she thought: “What’s the most American thing you can think of? And that’s Marilyn Monroe.” And for her, the most Marilyn thing was the dress. So she went to Ripley’s, and it agreed to let her try it, subject to some stringent requirements, some charitable donations and her actually being able to physically get into the dress.
Presumably, both sides understood the publicity power of the combination.
But aren’t Kim Kardashian and Marilyn Monroe pretty different body types?
It would seem so, but Ms. Kardashian said she shed 16 pounds to fit into the dress. She still couldn’t zip up the hidden zip at the back, so she draped a white fur stole around herself to hide the fact that the two sides were held together with a tie. Also, unlike Monroe, Ms. Kardashian did wear what looked like Skims underneath the dress.
So how did she wear the dress while sitting for the dinner portion of the Met party?
She didn’t. She changed into a replica dress as soon as she got up the Met steps.
Did it have the intended effect?
First, Ms. Kardashian’s entrance in Marilyn dress inspired the kind of breathless excitement that accompanies most of what she does, thus connecting Ms. Kardashian forevermore to her sex symbol celebrity forebear. (That this particular forebear met a tragic end not long after wearing the dress, and hence it may have some pretty complicated implications, does not seem to have occurred to most.)
Shortly thereafter, however, came the backlash: to her extreme weight loss at a time when health and wellness is prized above crash diets, and to the idea that a garment that had come to symbolize a classic moment in political and pop culture history should be worn as a party stunt.