Not So Fast: Ripley's Says Kim Kardashian Did Not Damage Marilyn Monroe's Dress

Ripley’s Believe it or Not! is addressing claims Kim Kardashian damaged Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress.

via People:

After photos appearing to show damage to Marilyn Monroe’s Jean Louis gown that Kim Kardashian wore to the 2022 Met Gala began circulating online, Ripley’s, the owner of the dress, denied viral allegations that any damage was caused by the dress’ appearance at the May 2 event.

In an article published Thursday, Ripley’s explained the history of the dress sharing that they first acquired the dress at a Julien’s Auctions event in 2016 for $4.8 million — the most expensive dress to ever be sold at auction. They write that a report on condition of the dress published in early 2017 states, “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,” as well as outlining other flaws. Ripley’s did not reply to PEOPLE’s request for additional information regarding the source of the report or where it was published.

Ripley’s insists that no further damage occurred in the short time Kardashian, 41, wore it. 

“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,” said Ripley’s VP of Publishing and Licensing, Amanda Joiner, who was with the dress during its journey from Orlando to New York as well as throughout the day of the Met Gala. 

Ripley’s also addressed questions circulating about their decision to loan out such a valuable dress in the first place.

“There is no disputing the fragility of the dress and there was a calculated risk associated with wearing it, but Ripley’s has been collecting notable pop culture memorabilia, historical items, and unbelievable artifacts for years,” the company shared in a statement. “Our mission is to both entertain and educate, and sparking conversations like the discourse around this dress does just that. No matter which side of the debate you are on, the historical importance of the dress has not been negated, but rather highlighted.”

As for any payment transactions, Ripley’s maintains, “Kim Kardashian did not pay Ripley’s Believe It or Not! to wear the dress, nor did the company pay her. Rather, Kardashian made a charitable donation to two charities in the greater Orlando area on behalf of the company.”
Despite Ripley’s statement, some people still seem to question the decision to have the dress worn at all.

“Do you guys really not see the irony? The Gala specifically fundraises for the Met Costume Institute, which has an entire department devoted to preserving and conserving historical garments,” one commenter wrote in response to Ripley’s Instagram post about the alleged damage.

The Ripley’s account responded to the comment, claiming, “Believe It or Not! the powers that be, behind the Met Gala, approved Kim’s choice.”

The dress, which Kardashian wore for just mere minutes while taking photos on the red carpet before changing into a replica, is currently on display at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in Hollywood, California, where it will remain through the fall.

Images of the reported damage were first posted online by Marilyn Monroe historian and collector Scott Fortner earlier this week.

Fortner was provided the photos by visual artist and creative director ChadMichael Morrisette, who owns the company Oh Mannequin! and collaborated with Julien’s on a number of celebrity auctions, including the 2016 event in which Ripley’s bought the famed dress for $4.81 million.

Morrisette told PEOPLE he went to see the gown on display at Ripley’s in Hollywood on June 12, 2022, slightly more than a month after the Met Gala. He said that is when he noticed the alleged damage and took photos and video.

In the images shared by Morrisette, the dress, made of a delicate silk soufflé fabric, appears to be missing crystals. It also appears to have several small rips along the zipper seam.

“I was hired by Julien’s [in 2016] to put the dress on display, and not just the dress, I put Marilyn Monroe’s entire auction on display,” Morrisette tells PEOPLE. “I’ve handled more of her artifacts than anyone in the world. I’ve touched her driver’s license. I’ve touched her high school yearbook. I’ve touched her ID card to Korea, when she went to Korea with Joe DiMaggio. I’ve touched everything that’s ever come up for sale, including that dress.”

He adds: “I know this dress, and the damage is so apparent. I left Ripley’s in tears. I ran out with my hand over my mouth, holding back the tears, because I could not believe the damage that they allowed to happen for a publicity stunt.”

Fortner, who has one of the world’s largest, privately-held collections of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, told PEOPLE that as a collector it’s been difficult to follow the dress’s current journey.

“I was extremely disappointed to see that the dress actually had suffered significant damage,” Fortner said. “Ripley’s made several statements immediately following the Met Gala about how important it was to protect the gown and maintain its integrity.”

“The gown’s original fabric isn’t even available today. Crystals that were seen in photos and videos of the dress prior to the Met Gala are no longer present, and some are literally hanging by threads. The fabric of the dress is ripped and pulled apart,” he adds.

The iconic dress was originally worn by Monroe in 1962 to serenade then-president John F. Kennedy on his 45th birthday. 

In May, Ripley’s shared the efforts that were made to preserve the iconic gown. 

“Great care was taken to preserve this piece of pop culture history,” the company wrote on Instagram at the time. “With input from garment conservationists, appraisers, and archivists, the garment’s condition was top priority. Believe It or Not! no alterations were to be made to the dress and Kim even changed into a replica after the red carpet!?”

In order to fit into the gown, Kardashian famously lost 16 lbs. in three weeks as the dress — which was first flown to her via private plane from Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in Orlando, Florida — originally didn’t fit and couldn’t be altered.

“I would wear a sauna suit twice a day, run on the treadmill, completely cut out all sugar and all carbs, and just eat the cleanest veggies and protein,” she told Vogue of her strict workout routine. “I didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict.”

Kardashian also told Vogue that the delicate nature of the dress was top of mind for her and the Ripley’s team.

“I’m extremely respectful to the dress and what it means to American history. I would never want to sit in it or eat in it or have any risk of any damage to it and I won’t be wearing the kind of body makeup I usually do,” she said. “Everything had to be specifically timed and I had to practice walking up the stairs.”

The last time ChadMichael Morrisette saw that dress was six years ago — do you know what all could’ve happened to that dress in six years?

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