Marilyn Monroe Crystal Collection, ca. 1961

Value (2012) | $2,000 Auction$3,000 Auction
Watch  

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.

GUEST:
Yes.

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.

GUEST:
Right.

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.

GUEST:
Right.

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.

GUEST:
Oh.

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.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
On this little group of crystals.

GUEST:
Group of... oh, gosh. Thank you, thank you. I'm glad to know more about them.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
The Collector's Lab
Los Angeles, CA
Appraised value (2012)
$2,000 Auction$3,000 Auction
Event
Myrtle Beach, SC (June 23, 2012)
Period
20th Century
Material
Rock Crystal

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.