By John Rogers
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — It’s no secret Joe DiMaggio loved Marilyn Monroe. The baseball great cried at her funeral and for 20 years had flowers placed at her crypt several times a week.
The public displays were unusual for the famously stoic DiMaggio. Now, his heartbreak over the breakup of their marriage will get a rare public airing when “Marilyn Monroe’s Lost Archives” goes up for bid at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills next month.
“I love you and want to be with you,” DiMaggio said in one pained letter to Monroe from the collection, written when she announced she was filing for divorce after a matter of months in 1954. “There is nothing I would like better than to restore your confidence in me.”
DiMaggio wrote in his letter that he learned Monroe was leaving him when he saw her make the announcement on television.
“My heart split even wider seeing you cry in front of all these people,” he wrote in the letter.
The 300 items also include love letters from Monroe’s third and final husband, playwright Arthur Miller. There’s also a handwritten letter from Monroe to Miller in which the woman who was arguably Hollywood’s greatest sex symbol muses about her insecurities.
“It really gives you the chills when you read some of the stuff and see the intimacy and the personal nature of it,” said auction curator Martin Nolan.
Auction owner Darren Julien estimates the pieces could fetch $1 million or more, noting a watercolor Monroe painted and planned to give to President John Kennedy went for $80,000 at an estate auction nine years ago.
“We anticipate a lot of fans will be here. They’ll fly in from all over the world,” said Julien, who will put the items on display to the public at his Beverly Hills gallery for four days before they go on the block Dec. 5-6.
Other items in the collection include a 19-minute reel of a movie made for Monroe after her final picture, 1961’s “The Misfits,” wrapped.
“It’s fantastic to see how loved she was,” Nolan said. “Like you thought she was vulnerable and not loved and she craved love and she needed that reassurance. But she had it. She had it with Joe DiMaggio. She had it with Arthur Miller.”