Marilyn Monroe’s Name and Image Rights, Sold to Authentic Brands Group

January 17, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

An image of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 taken a few months before her death. An intellectual property corporation led by a Canadian dealmaker has acquired the rights to the name and image of Marilyn Monroe for an undisclosed sum.   (STR/Getty Images)
An image of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 taken a few months before her death. An intellectual property corporation led by a Canadian dealmaker has acquired the rights to the name and image of Marilyn Monroe for an undisclosed sum. (STR/Getty Images)
An intellectual property corporation led by a Canadian dealmaker has acquired the rights to the name and image of Marilyn Monroe for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase means Authentic Brands Group (ABG) can build the brand by licensing Monroe’s image on a variety of consumer products such as apparel, jewelery, cosmetics, and fragrances.

“Marilyn Monroe is recognized around the world as the embodiment of beauty and glamour. Quite simply, her name and her image have timeless appeal,” Toronto-based ABG Chairman and CEO Jamie Salter said in a release.

The deal was made in conjunction with National Entertainment Collectibles Inc., a global media and entertainment company.

“Monroe’s legacy will not only live, but it will be greatly enhanced” by the company’s track record in building brands worldwide, the release said.

ABG, which manages the merchandise licensing for Bob Marley’s name, bought the rights from Anna Strasberg, widow of Lee Strasberg, creator of the method form of acting.

However, Strasberg said in a press statement that she would remain involved as ABG markets “with integrity Marilyn’s great and timeless legacy.”

While ABG has not disclosed how much it paid, Salter told Erik Schatzker on Bloomberg Television’s “Inside Track,” that it was “definitely less” than the $100 million paid for the rights to Elvis Presley’s name.

How does the ABG acquisition make sense when there are thousands of Monroe images already in circulation? Salter told Schatzker that it all comes down to authenticity.

“If you want the real product it’s going to have to have the Marilyn Monroe signature and it will have to have the Marilyn Monroe official hangtag. If you want the real product you’ll buy it. It is no different than an Andy Warhol painting. Do you want the real one or do you want the copy?”

It was 57 years ago this month that Monroe, who Lee Strasberg claimed was one of his finest students, married Joe Di Maggio. The marriage didn’t last long, but every week for years after her death the former “Yankee Clipper” sent roses to her crypt. She died in 1962 at the age of 36 from a barbiturate overdose.