Marilyn Monroe Crystal Collection, ca. 1961
Appraised Value: $2,000 - $3,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 5
Appraisal Video: (3:42)
GUEST: Well, it's a crystal that I got from Ralph Roberts that Marilyn Monroe had. And he gave me a story, wrote it down, and had it notarized, and a picture with it.
APPRAISER: So how did you meet Ralph Roberts?
GUEST: He was the uncle of a friend of mine, and I did some marketing for his company.
APPRAISER: And you became best friends?
GUEST: Yes, we did.
APPRAISER: So you met Ralph later in life when he retired.
APPRAISER: But he had been an actor?
GUEST: Yes, with Marilyn he did, and they just became great friends.
APPRAISER: Well, it's a really well-documented relationship. We see the picture over by you is Ralph on the set of The Misfits with Marilyn.
APPRAISER: And he did have a bit part in that film as an ambulance driver. I think his more important role in that film really was calming her nerves, because he was her masseur.
GUEST: Yes, yes.
APPRAISER: So he had actually studied massage in the '50s in New York after he got out of the military. He was an actor and entered into the Strasberg school and met the Strasbergs in 1955, which is where he met Marilyn. And I think what's interesting about these pieces is that these are a part of another well-documented part of their life, which was Ralph Roberts is the one that drove Marilyn to her house that she used to share with Arthur Miller in Roxbury, Connecticut, when they were about to be divorced. They had broken up, and she needed to retrieve her belongings, so he drove her there. And she picked up some trunks and some other personal items. And that's what this letter tells us, that she gave him these crystals that day in the car. And he even says in the letter that she gave him the crystals. He says, "handed this box to me containing those crystals," and quotes, "with my love." So she gave them to him with love. They were very close friends right up until the time she died. It's great that he wrote the story out for you. He obviously treasured you as a friend enough to give them to you. The fact that Ralph signed it, the real value in the signature at the bottom of the letter is... we can compare it to other handwriting samples and we know it's him. He as an actor, his signature is not worth a tremendous amount of money. He always had very bit parts and really became more well-known for his association with her than as an actor himself.
APPRAISER: We have seen some of the other items that she gave him that day have come up for auction. In 1995, a major auction house sold a very small trunk that had some books and some other personal items. And that trunk sold for $1,795. And another lot had a much larger trunk with more magazines and books and other personal items. That trunk sold for $9,200.
GUEST: Good gracious.
APPRAISER: Now, the important part of this story is that that sold in 1995. Everything changed in the market for Marilyn Monroe in 1999. In 1999, the heir to the Strasberg estate actually put up the rest of her belongings and had a massive estate sale, which set auction records and did tremendously well. It changed the market for Marilyn. It really cemented her place as being one of the top stars ever sold. What I find interesting about the crystals, they could be from a chandelier. They look as though they might be. There were some chandeliers sold from her apartment with Arthur Miller.
APPRAISER: And it would be really fun to know if any of these crystals fell off of that chandelier, and you could actually say which one it came from and which apartment. But what's even more interesting is that she actually put them on this little piece of wire, and they're in the shape of a heart. So because they're Marilyn Monroe's, at auction we would probably put an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000.
APPRAISER: On this little group of crystals.
GUEST: Group of... oh, gosh. Thank you, thank you. I'm glad to know more about them.
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