WARSAW.- One and half years ago two unprecedented auctions were held and both were considered the most significant events of the Polish art market nearly 400 photographs depicting Marilyn Monroe and other celebrities were sold in the DESA Unicum auction house for PLN 3.8 million. They constituted a part of the collection belonging to FOZZ (Foreign Debt Service Fund). Over 3 000 collectors pictures made by one of the most renown photographers of celebrities Milton H. Greene, and these will also eventually go under the hammer. They will be auctioned as one catalogue unit, at the starting price of PLN 5 million. Their value is estimated at ca. PLN 18-24 million. The auction will be held on June 25, 2014 in the DESA Unicum auction house.
Following one and half years, the second photography auction of the FOZZ collection had taken place, it was decided that the remaining portion of the collection would be sell in one piece and the purchaser would commit to deposit it in the museum. The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Poland have debated on the future of the assemblage and, in consequence, decided that the remaining part of the collection would be handed over to the public institution.
- The auction participants have to undertake that when the deal is settled they will hand over the auctioned photographs to one of the museums. We hope that it will become a core of museums photography collection. The worldwide practice proves that private sponsors and institutions support this kind of ventures. We wish to develop such an attitude also here, in Poland, and we are glad to have negotiated an attractive starting price that should encourage potential buyers to take part in this auction. The essential thing is that the purchaser will be allowed to keep 100 indicated pictures, typical for the entire collection, including the photographs of Marilyn Monroe from The Black Session. says Juliusz Windorbski, CEO of DESA Unicum auction house, who is in charge of the auctions organization in cooperation with the Funds liquidator.
The first auction, held on November 8, 2012, was considered as unprecedented event on the Polish art market. It had been the first time when the world photography collection, describing Marilyn Monroe and other stars of the global pop art of the 1950s and 1960s, went under hammer. The bidding lasted 5 consecutive hours. It ended up with a record on the Polish art market in the photo category the picture showing Marilyn Monroe wearing a ball-gown was sold for PLN 69 000. An average price for an auctioned item was 10 times higher than the starting price. Items sold throughout November and December biddings covered 99% of the offer.
Benefits of being close to Marilyn Monroe
The remaining part of the collection contains loads of photographs that have not been released so far. Their author Milton H. Greene was a well-recognized US photographer. He had close relations with Marilyn Monroe, which made him famous worldwide. Greene met Marilyn for the first time while doing a job for Look magazine. A prominent actress and Greene got closer in 1953. For more than 4 years, since 1953 until 1957, Milton was her photographer, art advisor and business partner, helping her to terminate an unfavorable contract with 20th Century Fox and set up an independent business named Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc. It allowed Monroe to decide on the remuneration and selection of certain projects, and finally brought her to the movie, where she starred in Bus Stop and The Prince and the Showgirl. Her stage and backstage scenes were thoroughly recorded by Milton Greenes camera.
Milton took several thousand of Marilyns pictures. The FOZZ collection comprises both shots from photo, movie and privates sessions of genuine Norma Jeane Mortenson. Greenes art legacy encompasses photographs taken during famous sessions, including the picture in a ball-gown that has been listed by Times magazine in TOP 3 of the most popular photographs of the XX century. Moreover, The Black Session or The Mandolin Session can also be recognized as cult photographs. In the 1950s Green accompanied the actress barely with every step she took, documenting her private life, too. However, Greene and Monroe split up their business relations in 1957 when Marilyns third husband, Arthur Miller, a playwright, started to interfere in her professional life. Milton felt offended and retreated Marilyn Monroe Productions, simultaneously forbidding anybody to publish his photographs. The Greenes collection dedicated to Marilyn Monroe is widely diversified. Due to a close relations of the photographer and the model, Greene was able to present both a vast sex appeal of the greatest Hollywood star and her girlish charm.
Background of a unique collection
The career and reputation of Milton Greene were not based solely on cooperation with Marilyn Monroe.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Greene's works appeared in popular magazines such as Life", Look", Harper's Bazaar", Vogue". He collaborated with top stars from the fashion and art environment. He is recognized as one of the photographers who elevated the prestige of the fashion to the art level, in line with Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn and Norman Parkinson. The photographers archives also hide artistic fashion pictures, records from performances and shows. Apart from fashion pictures, Greene handled art photos of architecture or reportages made in poor districts of US southern towns as well as life coverage of people from his close neighborhood.
A vast collection of Greenes photography reveals fashion sessions, life scenes of Hollywood celebrities, fashion designers, musicians, actors, dancers and coverage of art pictures. For more than four decades, the photographer, in his very characteristic manner, was monitoring the renaissances of the most crucial cinematography center in the world. Milton Greenes camera portrayed Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich, Sammy Davis Jr, Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Groucho Marx, Audrey Hepburn, Andy Warhol, Judy Garland, Alberto Giacometti, Lauren Hutton, Alfred Hitchcock, Romy Schneider, Laurence Olivier, Ava Gardner, Steve McQueen, Claudia Cardinale, Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Dizzy Gillespie, Catherine Deneuve, Norman Mailer and many others.
After artists death, City National Bank had taken over the indebted collection. Then it was bought back by Dino Matingas, a Greek banker. The latter was a business partner of Head of the Fund and when the FOZZ scandal erupted, the liquidator claimed Matingas to pay the debt off. The part of it was returned in the form of star photographs.
The auction participants have to undertake to hand over the auctioned masterpieces to a selected register museum and deposit a bid security of PLN 500 000.