Ripley's Believe It or Not! disputed claims that Kim Kardashian damaged Marilyn Monroe's iconic gown when she wore it to the Met Gala, debunking images circulating on social media.
The gown, which Monroe wore during her "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" performance for John F. Kennedy, is 60 years old. Kardashian was widely criticized for wearing it to the Met Gala because of the historic significance and delicate construction of the garment. Images of the dress with and without damage to the seams spread online, with many people claiming that the rips, missing crystals and puckering seams were caused by Kardashian's Met Gala carpet walk.
Ripley's Believe It or Not!, which bought the gown in 2016 for $4.8 million, said Kardashian did not damage it.
"Kim Kardashian wearing the 'Happy Birthday' dress has been hotly contested, but the fact remains that she did not, in any way, damage the garment in the short amount of time it was worn at the Met Gala," the statement says.
Ripley's stated that a report from as early as 2017 reads, "a number of seams are pulled and worn."
"This is not surprising given how delicate the material is," the report continued. "There is puckering at the back by the hook and eyes."
Monroe’s dress, which she wore to President John F. Kennedy’s birthday fundraiser in 1962, is one of the most recognizable outfits from American history. Designed by Jean Louis, the sleek backless gown includes 2,500 hand-stitched crystals. Monroe was reportedly sewn into the dress for a seamless fit. It was one of Monroe’s last public appearances before her death less than three months later.
Ripley's also stated that Kardashian did not pay to wear the dress, nor did the museum franchise pay her. Instead, Kardashian made a charitable donation to two organizations in the greater Orlando area, where the dress is usually displayed, "on behalf of the company."
"From the bottom of the Met steps, where Kim got into the dress, to the top where it was returned, the dress was in the same condition it started it," Ripley's VP of Publishing and Licensing Amanda Joiner said. Joiner was "continuously with the dress" during the gala and while it was transported from Orlando to New York City.
The company "understands the risks" associated with displaying the gown at "a number of attractions" worldwide, the statement says, but Ripley's mission is to "both entertain and educate," which is what the conversation around the dress's Met Gala appearance achieved.
"No matter which side of the debate you are on, the historical importance of the dress has not been negated, but rather highlighted," the statement continued. "A[n] entirely new group of young people have now been introduced to the legacy of Marilyn Monroe."
The dress is now on display at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Hollywood location, where it will be exhibited "in as-is condition" throughout Fall 2022.