Often imitated, yet unsurpassed, the image of the late Marilyn Monroe is extremely lucrative even though she has been dead for nearly half a century. This week, a lawsuit was settled for $1.7m dollars for salvaged shots from the last photo shoot the incandescent star did for Vogue magazine, shortly before her suicide.
The outtakes of the sex siren had been sent on to Eros magazine, now defunct.
Bert Stern, a septagenarian snapper who got litigious, owns tens of thousands of Monroe proofsheets and prints. He had been convinced that the film had been stolen after he loaned it to Eros The photographer had never had the courtesy of getting his prints back from the magazine editors (a quaint predicament much less prevalent in the digital age...) It took 47 years later found out what happened:
Photographers Donald Penny and Michael Weiss said their colleague Robert Bryan had found the film in curbside garbage in midtown Manhattan in the 1970s and kept it in a shoe box as memorabilia for the last 35 years.
Their lawyer, Jamie Brickell, said Stern acknowledges in the settlement that his clients did nothing wrong. Brickell said Penny, Weiss and Bryan never asked Stern for any money; he said they only discussed returning the transparencies in exchange for a set of prints that they could keep.
Brickell and Stern's lawyer, Stephen Weingrad, said Stern, Penny and Weiss will develop nine sets of photos from the transparencies and sell them. He said the issue of how the proceeds are to be distributed is confidential.
"Since only nine sets of seven prints each will be produced, we are very excited," Weiss of Mount Kisco, N.Y., and Penny of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., said through Brickell. "These are great shots of Marilyn Monroe. With the original film and the digital tools we now have at hand, we will be able to create wonderful, unique one-of-a-kind prints."