Marilyn Monroe’s ’56 Thunderbird sells for $490,000 at auction

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Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe's T'bird appears in many period photos with the movie star | Julien's Auctions photos

Marilyn Monroe scored another big hit over the weekend with the sale of the late actor’s Raven Black 1956 Ford Thunderbird, which achieved a resounding $490,000 at Julien’s Auctions’ Idols & Icons: Hollywood sale in Beverly Hills.

The T’bird was part of a collection of “never-before-seen personal property” from Monroe’s estate, according to the auction house that specializes in celebrity memorabilia. The car was owned and driven from 1956 through 1962 by “one of Hollywood’s greatest screen goddesses.”

Marilyn Monroe
The convertible is in apparent excellent condition

The two-seat convertible had a pre-auction estimated value of $250,000 to $500,000.   The top current value of a similar, non-celebrity example of the Thunderbird in perfect concours condition is $85,200, according to the Hagerty valuation guide.

Celebrity provenance can add immeasurably to a collector cars’ value, especially those once owned by such A-list stars at Steve McQueen, Paul Newman or Eric Clapton. Monroe’s T’bird was the only automobile sold during Julien’s Hollywood memorabilia auction.

Some of the other Marilyn Monroe items bid to astronomical sales included her Golden Globe award for World Film Favorite Female 1961 from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which went for $250,000, making it the top selling Golden Globe sold at auction.

Marilyn Monroe
The Thunderbird came with its signature porthole hardtop

Other Monroe memorabilia included:

The black-satin blouse with matching necktie Monroe wore to a press conference at Los Angeles Airport on February 26, 1956, which sold for $43,750, over four times its original estimate of $10,000.

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Her copy of Playboy’s first issue with Monroe on the cover signed by publisher Hugh Hefner, which sold for $32,000.

Monroe’s iconic black and white checkered pants that sold for $31,250, more than three times its original estimate of $10,000.

Her beige Jax top worn in 1960 rehearsing for the film Let’s Make Love, which sold for $11,250.

Some of the other celebrities whose collector’s items were sold at the auction included the recently deceased comic-book legend Stan Lee, singer Cher, the late actor Sharon Tate, Tom Hanks, Roy Rodgers, George Clooney and “Jeff Bridges’ famous four-piece ensemble worn as his character The Dude, in The Big Lebowski, consisting of a brown cotton robe, custom green-plaid shorts, V- neck T-shirt and briefs that sold for $15,625,” Julien’s reported.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Brings back memories. In 1965 I bought my wife a ‘56 t-bird acqua &
    White and my self a white 1964 T-bird
    With 3 tops. Hard,convertible,
    And a snap on cover.

  2. Talk about a Hot looking car, a some like hot vehicle and famous WALK OF FAME star.
    Great information and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all you readers.

    THE EMPEROR OF CAR CRUISES AND PARTIES
    HUGH "BABE" O’Donnell
    West Mifflin, Pa.

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