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Never mind “sex sells”… Especially if the provenance is in doubt

“Sex sells”, or so they say. But you have to wonder if actual research into whether or not sex actually sells would bear this out…

It certainly didn’t at the Buenos Aires Film Collecting Fair over the weekend (August 7).

Among the lots for sale, with a whopping $480,000 starting price, was a scratchy black and white pornographic film allegedly starring the 20-year-old Norma Jean Baker – better known to you and I as Marilyn Monroe.

The seller was Spanish memorabilia collector Mikel Barsa, whose asking price of nearly $0.5m seems less astronomical when you consider that another copy of the same film sold for 1.2m to a private collector several years ago.

Barsa’s copy is one of two known and, given the past auction success of the other mucky vid, you could forgive Barsa for thinking that his weekend sale would be a sure-fire success.

Alas, the video left the auction block with no bids and no final buyer. Elsewhere, reports say that Barsa may sell to a Denver, Colorado buyer, but the video’s $480,000 price tag will likely be slashed by half.

So why the lack of success? We’ll I’d suggest that it’s all down to provenance…

Examine finest Monroe memorabilia collections, and you’ll find excellent provenance to match the price tags. Collector David Gainsborough Roberts sourced much of his collection from Monroe’s closest friends, like Ralph Roberts, and the world’s top auction houses.

Likewise our stock at Paul Fraser Collectibles, which includes a number of autographs penned by Monroe’s own fair hand.


Successful collectors like it hot… But they also like to be certain that whatever they’re buying has watertight provenance, like this expert-certified autograph

In contrast, ever since the alleged Monroe sex tape became public knowledge in 1997, there has been fierce debate as to whether or not the girl in the video is really Marilyn.

Also factor in the lack of involvement from any major auction house – not Christie’s or Bonhams, nor Julien’s or even Gotta Have It! – which may have dissuaded bidders to look past the obvious questions surrounding the video.

That said, despite the video’s dubious (for more reasons than one) content, Monroe estate representatives are still threatening to sue Barsa if he continues to attempt to sell the film.

It’ll be interesting to see how that pans out.

For now, the failed sale of the Monroe sex tape is a reminder that the collectibles market is a many-headed beast – and it’s best to stick with the ones that you trust.

By Alex


About paulfrasercollectibles

Expert opinion, news, views and interviews allowing you to collect and invest with confidence.

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