Camera behind iconic Marilyn Monroe shoot goes under the hammer

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Christie's auction house is selling a Hasselblad 500C used by photographer Douglas Kirkland to shoot some of the last professional photos ever taken of Marilyn Monroe, with the camera and lenses, as well as prints, expected to sell for $200,000-300,000 USD ($296,000-445,000 AUD).

According to the Phoblographer, the 27-year-old Kirkland was at the beginning of his career when he got his biggest break: photographing Marilyn Monroe for Look magazine’s 25th anniversary issue.

Kirkland says he initially found it difficult to tell Monroe how he wanted to photograph her.


According to the Christie’s feature, Monroe took charge and 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.”

“I learned an important lesson from her: if you are to elicit her most outstanding performance, treat a star like the princess you want her to be in front of your lens,” Kirkland, now 85, recalled.


Over the next few hours, 'Kirkland snapped as Marilyn preened and played for the camera, the two of them locked in a sort of dance of seduction, a dance of magical tension that shows in the amazing Kirkland photographs.'

Kirkland shot the images with one floodlight to limit distractions, and nothing between them 'but a thin silk sheet and the Hasselblad.'


Included in the auction are two magazine backs, two Carl Zeiss lenses, 50mm and 150mm, and two 40 x 60 limited edition archival pigment prints: MARILYN (Overhead) and MARILYN (Hugging Pillow). 

The buyer was also get the opportunity to 'host Douglas and Francoise Kirkland for dinner and to have Douglas shoot his or her portrait with the iconic Hasselblad.'

You can read more about the auction on the Christie's website. 

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