These and dozens of other personal items the actress left to a friend and mentor were in Beijing on Tuesday for a private viewing by Chinese collectors. More than 1,200 items, including Monroe’s shoes, purses, makeup and jewelry, will then be auctioned in Los Angeles come November.
The 1950s actress who achieved fame as a sex symbol led a troubled life and died aged just 36. The image and recollections of her have endured and made her into a pop culture icon. Now the personal items up for auction may invite new readings of the screen legend in the world as well as in China, a country she never visited.
“Last night I was awake all night again,” she writes to her therapist in March 1961. “Sometimes I wonder what the night time is for. It almost doesn’t exist for me — it all seems like one long, long horrible day.” She goes on to describe her recent time in a mental institution, which she likens to a being sent to a prison “for a crime I hadn’t committed.”
“Oh, well, men are climbing to the moon but they don’t seem interested in the beating human heart,” she writes.
Around 800 items to be auctioned come from the estate of Lee Strasberg, the famed American acting coach who became a father figure to Monroe. The money will go to his widow, Anna. Other items come from the collection of David Gainsborough-Roberts, a major collector of Monroe’s costumes.