The legacy of Marilyn Monroe has experienced many victories this past week, including one that was set on the calendar for today, May 7, 2007.
Today would have been the day that the lawsuit filed against defendants Robert W. Otto of Chicago, Mark Roesler of CMG Worldwide and The Queen Mary Corporation by expert witness and plaintiffs from The Bellinghaus Team including Mark Bellinghaus, Ernest Cunningham and Emily Sadjady was scheduled to be heard. Mark Bellinghaus and Ernest Cunningham entered with the intention to sue and Mr. Bellinghaus intended to be a plaintiff, however attorneys George G. Braunstein and Timothy D. McGonigle instead requested that Mark Bellinghaus act as expert witness because of his “collector” status. As it turns out lawyers for both parties have decided to settle this matter just last week outside of court. No further details were disclosed. Despite the settlement, this is still a tremendous win by the Bellinghaus Team for the memory of Marilyn Monroe presently and for the future.
In November 2005 “Marilyn Monroe The Exhibit” was introduced aboard The Queen Mary in Long Beach. The exhibit featured items said to have belonged to the late actress. Included within the display were dresses, jewelry, and other mementos and personal items, later found by Mark Bellinghaus, the owner of the world’s largest collection of authentic Marilyn Monroe, that 99% of the featured items were fake. He recognized these bogus items immediately when attending the opening of the exhibit. He especially noted the Clairol Hair Rollers, a so called “highlight” of the Robert Otto collection, since Mr. Bellinghaus owns Marilyn Monroe’s authentic wire rollers. Mark Bellinghaus’ findings were posted on his blog exposé and diminished the credibility of this exhibit so dramatically that it started out as an event set to tour 39 cities and 6 continents with anticipated gross earnings exceeding $100 million (including sponsor funding and merchandise sales) over the next 12 years to becoming an embarrassment that was subsequently shut down.
In all seriousness why would the public wish to see a Victoria’s Secret dress (which is what one of them actually was), presented as Marilyn Monroe’s and on top of that displayed with the copyrighted signature of the immortal Hollywood icon? And if that was not enough, this exhibit claimed that this dress was designed by famous costume designer William Travilla, especially for Monroe. Victoria’s Secret was established many decades after Marilyn Monroe’s death. And even more degrading to her memory, 100% fake underpants, which had her name handwritten on the inside of the distasteful piece with a modern Sharpie Marker, besides looking humungous and much too large to have fit her. Astute fans know that Marilyn Monroe shunned underwear to begin with, let alone a pair taken from Grandma’s underwear drawer.
These are just a few of the outrageous items that were on display for seven months in the biggest exhibition scandal to ever hit the USA, and which was about to tour the world. What shame this would have brought to our country. Had it not been for Mark Bellinghaus’ persistence, how many more innocent fans and attendees would have lost their $22.95 entry costs to have been deceived by a fraudulent exhibit?
To read Mark Bellinghaus’ blog exposé:
Please see attached link for the initial news report regarding this Marilyn Monroe Fraud Exposure:
To learn more about Mark Bellinghaus’ authentic Marilyn Monroe collection:
The victory that Marilyn Monroe’s image has been protected from fraud goes hand in hand with another triumph regarding the late superstar’s image. In New York last Thursday it was ruled by Federal Judge Colleen McMahon that Marilyn Monroe’s beneficiaries and licensing agents do not have postmortem rights of publicity ownership on her, which died with her in 1962 since she did not bequeath this right in her will. This decision was part of a countersuit by The Shaw Family Archives LLC who was sued for their violation of the publicity rights by Marilyn Monroe LLC from their sales of images of Miss Monroe without their consent. However Marilyn Monroe LLC had misinterpreted The Celebrities Rights Act which was passed in 1985 and extends publicity and image rights for a celebrity 70 years postmortem, and is non-applicable to Miss Monroe’s circumstances since she did not consent to this in her will.
The triumphs by leaps and bounds made in the memory of Marilyn Monroe have been tremendous this past week. Unfortunately even years after her death, abuse of Marilyn Monroe has continued worse than it did in her lifetime by those who did not know her as well as some who did. Anna Strasberg is a prime example of someone who never met her, yet has gained financially by piggybacking on the late actress’ legacy. Robert Otto is another who has peddled fictitious ‘bling- said to have belonged to her in his charlatan displays. Bebe Goddard (Marilyn Monroe’s own foster sister) and Dolores Hope Masi have also generated counterfeit items for sale claiming to have been owned or inspired by Marilyn Monroe. Sherry Lea Laird profits off of Marilyn Monroe through her stories that the actress is reincarnated within her. And storytellers such as Jeanne Carmen and June DiMaggio have both woven story webs about their friendships with the late actress but neither can present proof such as personal posed photographs with her to validate their stories. June Alpino aka June DiMaggio has also served as the only authentication connection of the items from the Robert Otto/Queen Mary Exhibit, which as the world now knows is phony.
May the actions of The Bellinghaus Team as well as the success in court by The Shaw Family Archives LLC set precedence for future protection of the memory of Marilyn Monroe. Part of the success of the right of publicity lawsuit can also be attributed to Mark Bellinghaus, who provided the lawyers for The Shaw Family Archives LLC with information extracted from Marilyn Monroe’s will. He was able to share this since he is the owner of this authentic document which he purchased at an auction in 2005. His copy belonged to May Reis, the second beneficiary in Marilyn Monroe’s will, while Lee Strasberg was only named in fourth place. Please see this attached link for more information on this groundbreaking ruling:
The public now recognizes that the wrongdoings against the late actress will no longer be tolerated. It is as if Marilyn Monroe herself has spoken up to declare to the world that enough is enough.