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Marilyn Auction Sets Record

The bidding was hot in New York City Wednesday night, where one of legendary entertainer Marilyn Monroe's infamous dresses went for a memorable price.

CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports Monroe's form-fitting, flesh-colored sequined stunner sold for a record $1,267,500.

The dress, worn by the actress during her breathless "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" 1962 serenade to JFK, was the highest-priced item at the first session of a two-day Manhattan auction. If the song wasn't sexy enough, the dress made up for it: It was so tight Monroe had to be sewn into it.

The crowd cheered loudly when the winning bid from the Manhattan-based Gotta Have It! Collectibles was announced. It set a new record for an auctioned dress, obliterating the $222,500 paid for an ink blue Princess Diana gown sold in 1997.

Asked why he spent a small fortune on the dress, company co-owner Robert Schargin told reporters, "Because it wasn't $3 million, which we thought it was worth...we stole it."

It was just one of a host of Marilyn Monroe collectibles auctioned off at Christie's auction house -- everything from a $33,000 Bible and screenplays to bikini bottoms and sweaters.

Even before the infamous dress sold, a new record for a Monroe dress was set. A full-length black sequined evening dress, which Christie's said was worn by the movie star during a 1954 visit to soldiers in Korea, sold for more than a hundred grand.

Speaking of grand, a baby grand piano, once owned by Monroe's mother and reacquired by the actress years later, sold for $632,500; its pre-sale estimate was $10,000 to $15,000.

It was an event that collectors had waited months for. Even some of her former co-stars showed up for the gala. Tony Curtis, who appeared with Monroe in the Hollywood classic, Some Like it Hot sat in the front row as the bidding began.

He was one of the lucky ones who actually got a seat; it was standing room only with 1,200 people registered to bid, and more than 100 telephone lines installed for collectors around the world.

It was the last big auction of the millennium, for a woman many described as the icon of the 20th century glamour.

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