Kim Kardashian’s decision to wear Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” gown to the Met Gala in May is once again coming under scrutiny, with many online, including a Monroe historian, suggesting she damaged the gown.
Kardashian borrowed the dress from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum, which bought it from a 2016 auction for $4.8 million. Designed by Jean Louis, the dress was originally worn by Monroe to President John F. Kennedy’s birthday fundraiser in 1962. The gown is “now valued at over $10 million,” according to Ripley’s.
On Wednesday, Scott Fortner, a Monroe historian who oversees the Marilyn Monroe Collection, which collects the actor’s personal property and archives, shared several photos on Instagram that appear to show the gown’s condition before and after the Met Gala.
“Without question, the damage is significant,” Fortner wrote in one post, noting that there are “missing crystals, and some left hanging by a thread” in the after image. The image was sent to him by ChadMichael Morrisette, who took the photo of it while it was on display at Ripley’s Hollywood location on June 12.
Fortner did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But Morrisette confirmed to NBC News he took the photo at the Ripley’s Museum in Hollywood on Sunday and sent it to Fortner.
“On both sides of the zipper, the fabric was completely frayed like shredded chicken,” said Morrisette, a visual artist and costume expert who said he helped display the dress for the 2016 auction that Ripley’s bought it from.
There was also visible stress and missing sequins in the back of the dress, according to Morrisette, who called the damages he saw “shocking.”
“I have seen this dress throughout the years and have worked with it myself, and I knew immediately that there was irreparable damage done.”
A spokesperson for Ripley’s did not respond to request for comment or to verify that it is indeed an up-to-date image of the dress. The Ripley’s Hollywood website says visitors have access to “Marilyn Monroe Memorabilia” but does not specify what is on display. An employee of the Hollywood location confirmed via phone that the dress is currently there, but referred NBC News to the PR team for further information and comment.
The images shared by Fortner appearing to show damage to the dress drew criticism on social media this week, with some resurfacing their disapproval for Kardashian’s fashion choice. A spokesperson for Kardashian did not immediately respond to request for comment.
“The reason it’s so upsetting Kim Kardashian ruined Marilyn Monroe’s dress isn’t actually about the dress,” one person tweeted on Tuesday. “It’s that Marilyn was as intelligent, kind woman who was used, abused and exploited her whole life and even in death is still being so disrespected”