Christie’s Is Selling the Hasselblad 500c Used to Shoot Some of the Last Professional Photos of Marilyn Monroe

At the age of 27, celebrity photographer Douglas Kirkland got his big break photographing Marilyn Monroe. Now, almost 60 years later, Christie’s New York is auctioning the very Hasselblad 500C Kirkland used for the shoot, part of a collection valued at $200,000-300,000.

When he landed the shoot with Monroe for Look Magazine’s 25th anniversary issue, Kirkland had been a staff photographer for 18 months. The shoot took place in a rented Hollywood studio.

The Hasselblad is part of a campaign by Christie’s New York for their Exceptional Sale happening on October 29th. Also included are two magazine backs, two Carl Zeiss lenses (50mm and 150mm), and two 40 x 60 limited-edition archival pigment prints: Marilyn (Hugging Pillow) and Marilyn (Overhead).

Kirkland recalled that Monroe “told him that a bed, a white silk sheet, some Frank Sinatra records, and plenty of Dom Pérignon champagne were all they needed to ‘make magic together.’”

Monroe undressed before slipping under the sheets. Kirkland continued to shoot as she moved, opting to use a floodlight so as to not be interrupted by flash. It’s reported that Monroe even requested to be alone with Kirkland, because she wanted, as Kirkland puts it: “just myself, the camera, and Marilyn.”

See the full Christie’s feature for more on the shoot and the upcoming Exceptional Sale.

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8 Comments

Ken Flanagan's picture

I have a 500c and I can definitely say that I don't know that it wasn't used to shoot Marlyn Manroe....
I would like to sell it for 10,000 which is a steal comparatively.

Spy Black's picture

Back in my photo-optical days in the 80s, the original 2-1/4s of the last photos shot of Monroe by Bert Stern were given to me to make Ektachrome dupicate contact print copies.

When I was removing the chromes from the contact frame, the tape tore off part of a backing glaze on one of the old E4 2-1/4 strips! Fortunately not detrimental, but at first I thought I just tore the strip in half. I told my boss, but I never heard anything from it.

Weird feeling tho...

Fristen Lasten's picture

I have what is believed to be the door mat from the studio where her last photos were taken.

Timothy Turner's picture

I wonder how much her tooth brush is worth

Timothy Turner's picture

The 500c used to photograph Marilyn Monroe is no different from any other 500c, so why should it be worth any more than a 500c sold at KEH or any other used seller.

Rob Mitchell's picture

Going to have to google that. Was she an influencer? Did she have an instagram profile?

I once saw Elvis in real life. How much can I sell my eyes for? My kids want to know.

Gary WWU85's picture

Without the preserved developer and fix solutions the price is ripoff.