Apr 12, 2018 - Sale 2473

Sale 2473 - Lot 111

Price Realized: $ 10,625
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,500 - $ 3,500
(KENNEDY, JOHN F.) Stoughton, Cecil W.; photographer. The only known photograph of Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy together. Silver print, 11 x 11 inches; dry-mounted on board and matted, light age-toning. New York, 19 May 1962 (image), print circa mid-1970s

Additional Details

On 19 May 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday" at President Kennedy's Madison Square Garden birthday party. Afterwards she joined the president and other VIPs for a private party at a nearby Manhattan townhouse. Cecil Stoughton was the only photographer present. He was instructed not to photograph Monroe with the president because of rumors that the two had an affair. He managed to sneak in this shot, but kept it secret out of respect for the president's wife.
This photograph includes Robert F. Kennedy at left, Monroe in the famous translucent gown she had worn at the public event, and President Kennedy with his back to the camera on her other side. In the background can be seen singer and activist Harry Belafonte; on the far right, historian Arthur Schlesinger seems to be trying fruitlessly to engage Monroe in conversation. Schlesinger later wrote about this night: "The image of this exquisite, beguiling and desperate girl will always stay with me. I do not think I have seen anyone so beautiful; I was enchanted by her manner and her wit, at once so masked, so ingenuous and so penetrating. But one felt a terrible unreality about her--as if talking to someone under water. Bobby and I engaged in mock competition for her" (Journals, 1952-2000, page 162).
This now-iconic image was not generally known to the public until after Stoughton's 2008 death. The present example drew national attention when it first appeared at auction in 2010. Provenance: sold by Stoughton's estate at a Bonhams sale, 9 December 2010, lot 6191, to the consignor.