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.