lot n°732: Marilyn Monroe’s platinum and diamond
eternity wedding band given to her by Joe DiMaggio

A platinum eternity band set with 35 baguette-cut diamonds (one diamond missing just as it was at the Christie’s Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe sale in 1999), VS1 clarity with a total carat weight of 3.5 (when all diamonds were present), given to Marilyn Monroe by Joe DiMaggio on their wedding day on January 14, 1954.

After Marilyn did some publicity photographs wearing a sexy short-skirted baseball outfit in the winter of 1951-1952, DiMaggio saw the pictures and learned that she was a rising Hollywood starlet and was determined to meet her as soon as possible. They were introduced at an Italian restaurant on Sunset Boulevard and DiMaggio was surprised to learn that she had never attended a baseball game and knew practically nothing about the game. For his part, DiMaggio was suspicious of Hollywood and its invented idolatry. Despite this, the couple had an immediate and palpable chemistry; Marilyn was drawn to this calm, handsome ex-ballplayer while DiMaggio was smitten by her considerable charm and a passionate romance was instantly ignited.

The two were married in an intimate civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall, out of the spotlight, a rarity for both of them. DiMaggio’s friend Reno Barsocchini and his old San Francisco Seals manager, Francis Joseph “Lefty” O’Doul, together with O’Doul’s wife and the judge were the only people in attendance. Marilyn had no loved ones present. Standing beside Joe, holding three orchids, she promised to “love, honor and cherish.” When the orchids withered in her perspiring hands, she turned to Joe and asked that if she died before him, would he place flowers at her grave every week, like William Powell had done at the grave of Jean Harlow? Joe promised that he would.

When the ceremony was completed, the newly married couple exited the courtroom to over 100 reporters, fans and autograph hounds. Unbeknownst to Joe, Marilyn had shared the news with studio publicity chief, Harry Brand. The newlyweds were photographed kissing and submitted to a barrage of questions including famously, “How many children did they plan?” “I’d like to have six,” Marilyn responded. “One,” said Joe.

The dreams of America’s favorite couple were short-lived as the couple’s relationship was strained from the outset. On September 15, 1954 during filming of the famous subway grate sequence of The Seven Year Itch, DiMaggio was urged by friend Walter Winchell to come view the spectacle that was taking place on Lexington Avenue. DiMaggio relented and witnessed the iconic scene of Marilyn astride the subway vent with white dress billowing upward. DiMaggio was furious and stormed off. Two weeks later, Marilyn filed a petition for divorce; the marriage lasting only nine months.

In February, 1961, Monroe was admitted to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic where she contacted DiMaggio. He secured her release and she spent some time with him in Florida where the couple reconciled. True to his promise, after her death, DiMaggio continued to send one half-dozen roses to her crypt three times a week for 20 years. Unlike Marilyn’s other husbands or others who knew her, DiMaggio refused to talk publicly about her, the woman he loved more than any other.

Provenance: Christie’s Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe, Lot 10, October 27-28, 1999 and sold for $772,500.
Estimate: $300 000 - $500 000

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