Antiques Roadshow guest ‘floored’ by Marilyn Monroe photo’s worth given during airport run

WARNING: This article contains spoilers from Antiques Roadshow. 

An Antiques Roadshow guest brought in a Marilyn Monroe photograph, signed by the woman herself, after her uncle picked the star up from the airport.

Expert Laura Woolley had the job of appraising a beautiful picture of the 1950s icon during filming for an episode of the hit PBS series.

Explaining its background, the guest said: “I inherited this through my family. I had an uncle, Jack Petrie, who was a gifted musician, and he played for Fred Karger off and on, who was in charge of the music for Columbia Studios.

“Fred Karger was her [Marilyn Monroe] vocal coach and somewhere in there, Jack met Marilyn. He accompanied her on the piano a few times.

“He met my Aunt Paula, who was a housemate of Marilyn’s and Fred Karger’s mother had a house that she allowed young starlets to live in.

“He [Uncle Jack] had to go pick her up at the airport in Los Angeles, and my grandparents were there on vacation, and that’s why it says: ‘To Mom and Pop Pete.’”

Read more: Antiques Roadshow guest taken aback by value of book found at rubbish dump

When asked what her grandparents’ first impressions of Marilyn was during this trip, the guest laughed: “They just, they just said they met her, and I’m not sure what, what they knew to say to Marilyn in the car.”

Woolley replied: “They must have left an impression, ’cause she made sure that they got a photograph.”, which the guest agreed was “sweet”.

She then continued: “This was taken by a man named Frank Powolny who was the lead photographer for 20th Century Fox for about 40 years.

“Most famously, he shot the picture of Marilyn from Niagara that was used by Andy Warhol to make the famous print of her face. That was one of his famous shots of her.

“But he shot her for a lot of films. This was shot for publicity for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

“And Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was filmed late 1952 into early 1953. So this would have been printed most likely in 1953, which is probably when it would have been sent, circa that time. By19’55, she kind of was spending a lot more time on the East Coast.”

She went on to summarise just how much the photograph was worth which the guest was not expecting.

“I think people instinctively know, but don’t often state openly, is, how visible is the signature?

“Because she signed this across her hair, it’s a huge plus for value.

“I think conservative, you would expect to get anywhere between $20,000 to $30,000 at auction.”

Its owner once again laughed: “I’m floored. I lived with this photo from the time I was a child, had no idea, and it’s just been hanging around. So that’s amazing, that’s amazing.”

But Woolley had potentially even more good news: “In the past two years, a few have sold for as much as $50,000 and $63,000 that were, I would say, comparable in quality to yours.

“So if it did do well in excess of that estimate, I wouldn’t be surprised, because there are only so many of these out there that are authentic, and again, having your story is pretty fantastic.”

“My goodness yes”, the guest exclaimed.

Antiques Roadshow is available to watch on PBS.

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