A rare portfolio of photographs from Marilyn Monroe's last sitting is up for grabs to the highest bidder. Fashion photographer Bert Stern, who died in June at age 83, took more than 2,500 photos of the Hollywood icon over three days at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. The limited-edition portfolio of 10 photos up for auction was made from Stern's original negatives from his June 1962 assignment for Vogue. The portfolio photos are from the first day, when Stern and Monroe were alone before the arrival of a cadre of Vogue staffers. (Stern apparently brought a turntable and speakers and three cases of champagne.)
Six weeks after her session with Stern, the 36-year-old screen siren was found dead in her home Aug. 5 of an apparent drug overdose. Stern's photos were a sensation, partly because they were taken right before Monroe's death and partly because they included the first nude photos of Monroe since 1949. Many of the nudes show the star posing with diaphanous scarves, paper flowers, and pearls in bright but diffuse natural light that gives the photos a dreamlike quality. Freeman's auction house in Philadelphia estimates the portfolio could fetch $10,000 to $15,000 when it goes on the block Sept. 10.