Did Kim Kardashian Actually Damage Marilyn Monroe's Dress? Ripley's Finally Responds To Before And After Photos

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(Image credit: E!)

Kim Kardashian caused a lot of controversy when she showed up for this year’s Met Gala in Marilyn Monroe’s gold dress — the one the iconic actress wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. From fans who criticized her for the weight she lost to fit in the dress to the gown’s designer Bob Mackie saying it was made for no one but the Some Like It Hot star, Kardashian sure did ruffle a lot of jewel-encrusted feathers. The controversy only grew after before-and-after photos of the supposed dress indicated the garment was damaged during the gala event, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! put out an official response.

The Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Museum in Orlando, Florida, bought the Jean Louis gown at auction in 2016 for $4.8 million. Since the Met Gala, it has been displayed at the Ripley’s Hollywood location, where it will remain until this fall. Photos taken of the dress on display there have gone viral on Instagram after they were compared to images taken before Kim Kardashian borrowed it. But Ripley’s published an article on their website to “set the record straight,” with Ripley’s VP of Publishing and Licensing Amanda Joiner saying the currently blonde bombshell did not, in any way, damage the dress:

From the bottom of the Met steps, where Kim got into the dress, to the top where it was returned, the dress was in the same condition it started in.

Kim Kardashian, who also had to defend herself against critics of her 16-pound weight loss, changed into a replica dress after walking the red carpet, and Amanda Joiner said she stayed with the piece during transport from Orlando to New York, as well as on the day of the gala. 

Marilyn Monroe fans and members of the art community were upset by before-and-after photos that appeared to show the dress in worse condition after it was worn at the gala. Multiple photos on an Instagram page point to missing crystals, straining around the seams and stretched fabric. Check out the photos for yourself:

The dress was not in mint condition to begin with, as Ripley’s said a quality report on the dress from 2017 — the year after they purchased the dress — noted that "a number of the seams are pulled and worn. This is not surprising given how delicate the material is. There is puckering at the back by the hooks and eyes." Despite both this explanation and the insistence that Kim Kardashian did not compromise the dress’ integrity, it’s clear from the comments that some people aren’t buying it.

Either way, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! stood behind its decision to allow the reality star to borrow the dress, arguing that it introduced Marilyn Monroe to a new audience, thus extending her legacy. Ripley’s said in their statement: 

Our mission is to both entertain and educate visitors and fans, and sparking conversations like the discourse around Marilyn Monroe’s dress does just that. No matter which side of the debate you are on, the historical importance of the dress has not been negated, but rather highlighted. A entirely new group of young people has now been introduced to the legacy of Marilyn Monroe.

Ripley’s is certainly right about one thing — Kim Kardashian borrowing the dress has started a conversation, whether you agree with her actions or not. And with Ana de Armas' upcoming film Blonde coming to Netflix in September, we'll no doubt see a new batch of Marilyn Monroe-centered debates in the future.

The first season of the famous family’s new show The Kardashians just came to an end, and all 10 episodes can now be streamed with a Hulu subscription. Be sure to check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what new and returning shows are premiering soon.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.