Canadian billionaire Jimmy Pattison has found a very special place for a Marilyn Monroe dress that is not only a part of fashion but of history as well.
Pattison is displaying the renowned form-fitting dress that Monroe wore to sing Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy — one of the world’s most expensive and famous dresses in the world — in the town hall of the one-horse community of Luseland, Saskatchewan, population 600.
Pattison, who owns media and grocery stories throughout Canada, lived in the small prairie town as a boy. The dress will also make appearances at Ripley’s Believe it or Not museums in Canada and the United States — also owned by Pattison.
The Vancouver tycoon, who also owns legendary singer and actor Frank Sinatra’s old Palm Springs pad, paid $4.8 million for the iconic dress worn by screen goddess Marilyn Monroe when she sang birthday greetings to Kennedy. The May 1962 gala event at Madison Square Garden celebrated JFK’s 45 birthday.
Actor and Kennedy brother-in-law Peter Lawford MC’d the party and he somewhat ironically introduced the perpetually tardy sex symbol as “the late Marilyn Monroe.” Monroe would be dead within months.
After concluding her sexy rendition of the song, Kennedy, with whom she may have had an affair, took to the stage with a mischievous grin and said that he could “now retire now politics, having Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.”
The famous gown will soon adorn the town’s community hall. The almost $5 million that the flesh-colored, skin-tight garment fetched makes it the most expensive dress ever sold at an auction.
“When people first hear about it, like me, you kind of say ‘why?’ … and then the shock hits you,” the town’s perennial mayor, Len Schlosserm, told the National Post.
Partisan is certainly known in this off-the-track farming community that is dominated by grain silos. As you enter the town — don’t blink! — you will see the official welcome sign that reminds everyone that it is the “Hometown of Jimmy Pattison.” The entrepreneur made the official announcement that he was going to bring the Monroe relic to the town when he was in the nearby city of Saskatoon to donate $50 million to the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan.
“He asked that I be in Saskatoon to meet with him, and that’s when I first learned what it was all about,” Schlosser said.
He added that the town was “very thankful and gracious.”
While the dress is in Saskatchewan, Pattison, ever the smart businessman, will use it to highlight the continued growth of his Save-On-Foods grocery stores in the western Canadian province.