I've been collecting for 25 years and I feel like I have finally found the Holy Grail of my Marilyn collection - an item she owned and was photographed wearing!|
Like many fans the idea of owning something that actually belonged to Marilyn would be the ultimate achievement.
I was thrilled to purchase one of her hats from Julien's Auction House in 2008. While I loved and treasured it - I spent the next 6 years trying to find a photo of Marilyn wearing the hat - without success.
In December 2014, Julien's hosted a dedicated Marilyn auction and they sent me a catalogue. I wasn't expecting to buy anything but I was excited to look through the items available.
I immediately fell in love with a set of four rhinestone hair clips shaped like stars. I'm not sure why I fell so hard for them - maybe because they are something I would wear today. Maybe it is because they made me smile and I can imagine that they also brought Marilyn joy.
When I discovered that photos had recently been released by Life showing Marilyn wearing them - I had to have them! The prices of her belongings just keep going higher and higher every year so this was my shot.
The Life photos were relatively unknown and luckily not included in the catalogue. They would have certainly drove the price out of my reach if they had been included. Well, they were really out of my price range regardless which is why I sold my Marilyn hat to another collector in order to help with the cost.
As you can see by this photo of me taken the day I received them - I have no regrets! It was an overwhelming experience to put one in my hair and realize that Marilyn had done the same thing.
Thank you Marilyn for keeping them - I will take care of them for you now.
So what is provenance and why does it matter? Provenance is a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to it's authenticity. Unfortunately, as Marilyn's popularity continues to increase so does the number of people who try to take advantage of this. A simple search on Ebay will reveal a number of items that supposedly belonged to Marilyn. Just because an item comes with a Certificate of Authenticity does not make it legit. Anyone can type up a letter of provenance and many fakes use the names of people that did have ties to Marilyn to make them seem believeable. In particular do not trust any items that are supposedly from Bebe Goodard, Helen Turpin, Elaine Barrymore, May Reis, Kent Warner, etc. If it seems too good to be true it probably is. Authentic Marilyn items are not cheap.
I was beyond excited to come across these candid photos of Marilyn and Arthur out for an evening of theatre. Marilyn looked absolutely breathtaking and a little rhinestone star hair clip made an appearance of its own!
The back of the hair clips have the name AUGUSTE BONAZ and made in France so I wanted to research their history.
Auguste Bonaz was a master comb maker famous during the Art Deco period. His hair combs are highly collectible. The Bonaz House was founded towards the mid 19th century by Cesar, and was located in Oyannox, an area of France celebrated for comb making. His son Auguste opened a branch in Paris, which continued in business until 1982. The Bonaz collection was largely distributed through high end perfume shops and ladies hairdressers, as well as major department stores throughout France.
During my research, I came across this wonderful vintage magazine ad that I have displayed with Marilyn's combs. It says, "A Shower of Stars, The lucky star that permits you to create a new hairstyle each night is signed Auguste Bonaz."
This advertisement shows the kinds of small rhinestone hair ornaments which were favoured throughout the period 1930s to 1950s. Small hair combs, barrettes and head bands feature stars, chevrons, circles, swirls and bows and are usually ornamented with rhinestones that are prong set into chromed metal.
Here is how I have the clips displayed. They are in my living room instead of the Marilyn shrine - so I get the chance to look at them every day.