Kim Kardashian is facing backlash after photos surfaced showing alleged damage to the iconic Marilyn Monroe dress the reality star sported at the Met Gala on May 2.
Kardashian struck a deal with Ripley’s Believe It or Not to wear the gold “Happy Birthday” dress, which has been valued at nearly $5 million, to the star-studded fashion event. The decision was met with pushback, initially because of Kardashian’s comments about losing weight for the event. Professional conservators at the time also spoke out, saying it was ill-advised to wear any clothing item with so much history, no matter the reason or the person. “I’m frustrated because it sets back what is considered professional treatment for historic costume,” one conservator told the L.A. Times.
Now, a Marilyn Monroe collector is criticizing Kardashian and Ripley’s, sharing pictures of the dress before and after the Met Gala that appear to show stress to the fabric and missing crystals.
“Without question, the damage is significant,” the Scott Fortner Marilyn Monroe Collection wrote on its Instagram account Monday.
The new photos and videos of the dress were taken by creative director Chad Michael Christian Morrisette, who has a long history of assisting in the archiving of the dress at Ripley’s Hollywood, where the dress is currently housed. On Instagram Tuesday, Morrisette wrote, “This dress is a piece of my life and my heart. To see what @kimkardashian did in the damaging of it is heartbreaking,” adding the hashtags #nationaltreasure, #howdareyou, #ego, #greed and #thief.
The Marilyn Monroe Collection accompanied its posts about the dress with a number of quotes about the decision to let Kardashian wear it, including from Amanda Joiner, vice president of licensing and publishing at Ripley Entertainment.
“The dress was never with Kim alone. It was always with a Ripley’s representative. We always ensured that at any time we felt that the dress was in danger of ripping or we felt uncomfortable about anything, we always had the ability to be able to say we not were going to continue with this,” Joiner said in a statement to the Daily Beast.
Representatives for Kardashian and Ripley’s Believe It or Not did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.
A post shared by The Marilyn Monroe Collection (@marilynmonroecollection)
Others chimed in on Twitter and Instagram, with many agreeing that the damage was apparent and unfortunate.
“Marilyn was used all her life, she hardly had anything that was truly her own,” one Twitter user wrote. “This dress, it was hers. It was designed specifically and ONLY for her. Now it’s ruined.”
“They really let her ruin a historical artifact for an underwhelming look that wasn’t even on-theme,” another wrote.
Originally sketched by Bob Mackie and created by Jean Louis as a dress “that only Marilyn Monroe could wear,” no one other than Kardashian has worn the sheer dress since Monroe in 1963, when she performed “Happy Birthday” for then-President John F. Kennedy a few months before her death. The dress was so tight on Monroe at the time that she had to be sewn into it, and Kardashian echoed that sentiment on the red carpet of the Met Gala, where she said she lost 16 pounds in three weeks in order to make it fit. After walking the red carpet, she changed into a replica version of the dress.
Mackie himself spoke out against the decision in May, telling Entertainment Weekly he “thought it was a big mistake” for Kardashian to wear the dress.
“[Marilyn] was a goddess,” Mackie continued. “A crazy goddess, but a goddess. She was just fabulous. Nobody photographs like that. And it was done for her. It was designed for her. Nobody else should be seen in that dress.”
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