Marilyn Monroe
Source: Getty Images

Marilyn Monroe Is Still Worth a Lot—Who Owns Her Intellectual Property Rights?

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Jul. 8 2021, Published 10:45 a.m. ET

Iconic 1950s movie star Marilyn Monroe was one of the most renowned celebrities of her time. After her death at the young age of 36, the rights to her image and intellectual property went primarily to her acting coach.

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That coach received a 75 percent stake in Marilyn Monroe's intellectual property rights. Today, those rights are owned by global entertainment brand company Authentic Brands Group LLC.

Who received the Marilyn Monroe estate?

Monroe, also known as Norma Jean Baker, rose to stardom as a model and actress during the 1940s and 1950s. She starred in films including All About Eve in 1950, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953, and The Seven Year Itch in 1955.

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marilyn monroe is still worth a lotwho owns her intellectual property rights_
Source: Authentic Brands Facebook

In her will, Monroe left a trust for her mother and another for her half-sister. Her intellectual property rights were divided, with 25 percent bequeathed to her psychoanalyst, Marianne Kris, and 75 percent to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg.

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After Strasberg’s death in 1982, his surviving spouse Anna Strasberg inherited his stake in the Marilyn Monroe estate. Strasberg partnered with CMG Worldwide and made a great deal of money through deals licensing Monroe’s name, image, and signature to thousands of products and endorsements.

Strasberg also commissioned Christie’s to auction off personal items of Monroe’s. Her baby grand piano sold for over $600,000 to singer Mariah Carey, and her gown from President John F. Kennedy’s birthday party sold for over $1 million.

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In 2011, Strasberg sold her rights to Monroe’s intellectual property to Authentic Brands Group LLC, or ABG. She said at that time, “I will remain involved, and I enthusiastically look forward to their innovative ideas and continuing to carry out with integrity Marilyn's great and timeless legacy.”

Also a partner in the deal was NECA Inc., an expert in media and entertainment properties.

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Source: Authentic Brands Twitter

Authentic Brands Group LLC

Authentic Brands Group LLC is the media and marketing conglomerate that owns and manages the rights to dozens of well-known entertainment and fashion brands. Its portfolio's celebrities include Shaquille O’Neal, Julius Erving, and Elvis Presley.

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It also holds the Thomasville, Volcom, Brooks Brothers, Nine West, and Aeropostale brands, and many more. The company has more than 700 global partners and over $14 billion in gross merchandise value.

When will Authentic Brands go public? IPO plans announced

In May 2021, Authentic Brands filed confidentially to pursue an IPO, reportedly seeking a $10 billion valuation in the deal. The company reported revenue of $160 million for the first three months of 2021, an increase of 32 percent from the same period a year earlier.

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CNBC reported Authentic Brands’ last valuation at between $4 billion and $4.5 billion when BlackRock bought a 30 percent stake for $875 million in 2019.

Lead underwriters for the Authentic Brands IPO are BofA Securities, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs. Some of its largest current shareholders are BlackRock, Leonard Green, Lion Capital, General Atlantic, and Simon Property.

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