Kim Kardashian appears to have permanently damaged a historic Marilyn Monroe dress after wearing it to the 2022 Met Gala, an expert familiar with the dress tells USA TODAY.
ChadMichael Morrissette, a visual artist who curates museums and costume exhibits, says he saw irreparable damage to the dress when he saw it on display Sunday at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Morrissette says he previously handled the dress in 2016 when he exhibited it for Julien’s Auctions, where Ripley’s bought it for $4.8 million.
As a result of Kardashian wearing the dress on the steps of the Met Gala, Morrissette says the garment now has a damaged zipper, torn fabric from the hooks, strain on the shoulder straps, and is missing beads and sequins.
Morrissette took photos of the dress on Sunday, which she shared with Monroe memorabilia collector Scott Fortner, who reposted them on Instagram to compare what the dress looked like before Kardashian wore it.
USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for Kardashian and Ripley for comment.
The tight, shimmering nude dress became part of American history after Monroe wore it while singing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
“Marilyn wore it one night and it fit her body. It was like skin on her body,” says Morrissette.
Sixty years later, Kardashian worked with Ripley to wear it to the Met Gala. According to Vogue, she only wore the dress for a few minutes before changing into a replica so as not to damage the original.
“I am extremely respectful of the dress and what it means to American history. I would never want to sit on it or eat on it or risk damaging it, and I won’t wear the kind of body makeup I usually wear,” Kardashian told Vogue at the time. “Everything had to be timed specifically, and I had to practice going up the stairs.”
In May, Ripley shared on Instagram that “great care was taken to preserve this piece of pop culture history,” adding that “the condition of the garment was top priority.”
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But Morrissette says it’s clear to any textile expert that the dress shouldn’t have been worn at all.
“When it comes to material and fabrics and threads and sequins from 60 years ago… everything you do damages it. Every time you put it on display it damages it,” she says. “When someone has the audacity to put it on and walk upstairs with it, you are so ignorant of the history of that piece of cloth that it makes me so angry.”
A devoted Monroe fan who has put several of her iconic dresses on display, Morrissette says she was thrilled to see the “Happy Birthday” dress in its current state.
“My heart is broken. I literally walked out of Ripley trying not to cry from what I saw,” he says. “I can’t believe Marilyn’s dress is destroyed.”
“This is the dress we have to look at now for the rest of our story,” she adds. “You literally ruined the most expensive dress in the world, Kim.”
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