Who Wants to See Marilyn Monroe's Only Fine Art Nude Photos?

Best known for its Belle Epoque posters of fin-de-siecle French tabacs and Art Nouveau motifs, Sarah Stocking’s Jackson Square shop is about to get a jolt of blonde ambition.

A traveling tour and sale of 21 color separations and the original print of the only fine art nude photography session that Marilyn Monroe ever did is coming, Aug. 5-8, from LimitedRuns, along with prints of other never-before-seen images. In total, the collection is expected to net several million dollars, and will move on to New York from here, if unsold.

[jump] Down on her luck in 1949 at the age of 23, Monroe (signing the release as “Mona Monroe”) was paid $50 to lay out on some red velvet while photographer Tom Kelley shot the images that would propel the former Norma Jean Mortenson to the cover of Playboy’s debut issue in December 1953 and into the arms of Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller. But not before these pictures escaped (at a time when distributing nudes through the mail was forbidden), via a printer that later became known for creating religious memorabilia.

The charismatic Monroe has several famous images to her name already, from Andy Warhol’s prints to the iconic shot of her standing above a subway grate as he skirt blows upward. Her look is, of course, timeless, such that famous-for-being-famous celebrities can accrue just a little more fame for posing like Marilyn for Instagram. But no one can ever be her equal, and now fans have a chance to see something they may never lay eyes on again.

The Red Velvet Collection, Aug. 5-8, at Sarah Stocking, 368 Jackson, 415-984-0700.

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