Marilyn Monroe’s 1956 Thunderbird

More than fifty years after her death, the blonde bombshell is still considered the sexiest sex symbols of all time and ranks as an icon of pop culture up there with Elvis and Mickey Mouse.

Julien’s Auctions is known for film/music/sports memorabilia as well as street and contemporary art. They handle collections and estates from entertainers including Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Banksy, Cher, Michael Jackson, and Sharon Tate. In 2016, it received its second placement in the Guinness Book of World Records for the sale ($4.8M) of the world’s most expensive dress ever – the one worn by Marilyn Monroe’s when singing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy.

In 2018 Monroe’s Thunderbird stole bidders’ hearts at the Hollywood auction event of the season, “Icons & Idols: Hollywood” in Beverly Hills. Collectors were able to bid live on the floor, online, and via telephone. Her 1956 Raven Black Ford Thunderbird convertible (driving to auction for the first time) sold for $490,000.

Darren Julien, president/chief executive officer of the auction house that bears his name, said: “Once in a while something comes along that has a powerful magic about it, a charisma, because of everything and everyone associated with it. This wonderful black Ford Thunderbird is not only part of automotive history but comes with an aura of glamour, romance and tragedy of a true Hollywood legend. It will make the centerpiece of any classic car collection and be an object of fascination to millions.”

The 1956 Ford Thunderbird was purchased in late 1955 by Marilyn Monroe Productions. Most accounts suggest it was a Christmas gift from her business partner and photographer, Milton Greene. Greene’s wife, stated: “Marilyn liked to drive. We’d take the convertible and with the top down, we’d go sailing along the highway. We both liked to feel the wind in our faces and the warmth of the heater on our legs.” Shortly after purchasing the convertible, Monroe married the playwright Arthur Miller. Rumor has it she drove it to their civil wedding ceremony on June 28, 1956, as well as their private wedding on June 30, 1956. Monroe owned the car for six years (1955-1962) before gifting it as an eighteenth birthday present to the son of a close friend.

The two-door, black Thunderbird features a white interior, 225 horsepower and a V-8 engine. It came from the factory with both its canvas convertible top and a detachable hard top with distinctive “porthole” windows. It also includes automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, power windows, and power seats, rear fender shields and American Classic radial tires.

The new owner says he “found the vehicle in lovely show condition. Nevertheless, the car has received a frame-off restoration to its exact original appearance by Prestige Thunderbird, Inc., of Santa Fe Springs, CA. In recognition of the car’s important provenance, special heed was given to the retention of original parts, with most driver and passenger touch surfaces left undisturbed. Finding this car, a classic two-seater model, after 56 plus years of its unknown whereabouts, was a singular event. No other car has been located and documented as owned by the incomparable Marilyn Monroe.”

Take a peek at this stunning car.


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