Marilyn as Lillian Russell by Richard Avedon

Marilyn as Lillian Russell by Richard Avedon. Owned by

In 1958 Marilyn Monroe posed for photographer Richard Avedon as five of the original sex symbols of the silver screen: Jean Harlow, Clara Bow, Marlene Dietrich, Lillian Russell and Theda Bara.

A few days ago I found a listing online from a man who was selling 3 out of 5 of those prints. I inquired about their condition and for photos. After receiving the images I noticed that not only were they in excellent condition but were also framed. The man was selling them for $20 each so of course, I jumped at the offer! He also mentioned he had a fourth picture and that he’d throw it in for free!

The original owner of the prints was a Marilyn collector who recently passed away and his things were shipped from Los Angeles to the seller (who lives in my home town) and he didn’t have the room to keep everything. I let the seller know that I am also a Marilyn fan and would be taking great care of the pictures.

I picked up the pictures the next night and they are gorgeous (and first editions). Each frame is color-matched to each photo and are larger than I expected. The best part of it all is that all 4 prints are autographed by Richard Avedon himself! I’m the happy owner of 4 autographed Richard Avedon Marilyn Monroe pictures 🙂 I never thought I’d say that!


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  1. Melinda Says:

    Congratulations! That is a great find – especially to have them signed! You won’t find a 5th one in the series. The Dietrich shot was never made into a poster.

  2. marilynmonroesource Says:

    Thanks so much! I’m in the clouds with these posters! I found a Dietrich on ebay for around $250.. could it have been a fake?? I tried looking for it last night but couldn’t find it anymore.

  3. Melinda Says:

    Maybe I’m mistaken. I have just never seen one and don’t know anyone who has one and I have been looking for at least 10 years. I have an 8×10 of it but I’ve never seen it done in the series like these other posters.

  4. kenny Says:

    I bought an Avedon Beatles banner from France-made for Stern magazine in 60’s.How can I be sure it is real-look very new to me.

  5. Tracy Says:

    I purchased a first edition copy of the “Marilyn Monroe as Lillian Russell” poster — which I understand was created in the 1980s (as were all these posters.) It cost me $100 and the poster shop still has two others — the Clara Bow and Jean Harlow. These are all full sized and I understand are somewhat rare. I don’t know how to find out their actual worth though. Mine is not signed.

    • marilynmonroesource Says:

      $100 may be considered a good deal! I’d snatch up the others if they are still available. I’ve checked out other unsigned posters from this series online and they were being sold for $200-$250.

      Did the poster shop have a few copies of each actress MM portrayed? If so, I wouldn’t count them as being authentic first editions.

  6. Fred Says:

    I just purchased a 1958 poster by Richard Avedon of Marilyn Monroe as Lillian Russell, which is a first edition. Does anyone know what the value is of this unsigned poster?

  7. Pamela Mooney Says:

    I have four of these prints Beautifully framed that I would like to sell. Any advise?

  8. geri pozzar Says:

    i bought three of the firts edition in london five years ago signed by avedon for about £ 200 framed. theda bara, lilian russell and jean harlow. the decorate my stìitting room and i am very pround of them

  9. barbara Says:

    I have all four signed and in perfect condition–in tube–never framed. Might consider selling

    • Timothy Says:

      Do you still have these and have you decided to sell?

    • Debra Says:

      Do you still have these? I may be interested. Have been a MM collector for over 10yrs.

      • marilynmonroesource Says:

        Yes, I still have them. When i mentioned selling my collection I meant my random things and not my Avedon posters. Sorry I should have been more accurate.

      • Pamela Mooney Says:

        I am interested in selling my collection of you are interested I can email yopu some photos of them I have all four signend and in beautiful wood frames.

      • gerald balcom Says:

        Hi I have a 1958 signed lillian russell poster,
        That Was “Not” made in 1980 this is a first edition first state at the bottom copyright 1958 by richard avedon all rights reserved
        exclusive distribution:Andrew Grenshaw ltd.407 E 75th york ny 10021 usa 12126288212 firstedition “signed in gold marker and the ink can be seen above and over poster with a loop. Interested? Jerry

  10. Timothy Says:

    Just to let you know, these prints were originally listed in american photographer magazine, you could buy them signed or unsigned, as a set or individually. I see the magazine on ebay once in a while, also, Marilyn as Marlene was never produced, I am not sure why, it is my favorite, but I contacted a graphic artist in California who made it for me. So I now have all five. Should you want to see it, just email me and I will show you the finished product, it is stunning!

  11. j camara77@, Says:

    Richard Avedon was a very kind man. Wrote to him and asked fo an auto graph. He did send meone in one of his photos. The lady with the elephant. I cant thank him enough.

  12. james Says:

    i just recently cleaned out my grandfathers house and came across the whole set of these marilyn monroe first edition framed since day 1 , anyone interested?

  13. Carolyn Cortez Says:

    I have the whole collection of the four Marilyn Monroe pictures each signed in gold by Richard Avedon and beautifully framed I am trying to find the value and would like to sell them.

  14. Molly Says:

    I have this same print only mine is signed by Richard Avedon. I love it. Have it float framed.

  15. william Says:

    I have the Theda Bara print – signed and framed….always wondered what it was worth…. definately willing to part with it for the right price….

  16. teddy Says:

    I have a series of prints of Marilyn Monroe Richard Avedon signed for me.

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