A Los Angeles-based collector of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia named Mark Bellinghaus is claiming that photographs and descriptions of various stored-away Monroe letters, jewelry and keepsakes in this month’s Vanity Fair are to some extent bogus, particularly in the matter of a letter sent by W. Somerset Maugham to Monroe in January 1961.
A scan of an allegedly authentic January 1961 letter sent by W. Somerset Maugham to Marilyn Monroe.
Bellinghaus is calling the Monroe article and photo spread a “hoax,” although he told me this morning that some of the materials, all of which are from a collection owned by another Southern California collector named Millington Conroy, are authentic and legitimate. But many or most of them aren’t, he claims.
Vanity Fair spokesperson Beth Kseniak wasn’t up to speed on the matter and said she’d get back to me tomorrow.
An article by Sam Kashner called “Things She Left Behind” and an accompanying photo piece called “The Marilyn Papers” reviews all the Monroe materials found and recently revealed in two filing cabinets.
I also wrote Kashner about this, to no response.
Vanity Fair‘s photo of an identically-worded January 1961 letter, also allegedly sent by W. Somerset Maugham to Marilyn Monroe. Bellinghaus claims the pink Somerset letter is a fake.
“I’ve read the claims by Bellinghaus about the VF Marilyn Monroe article,” I wrote, “and without getting into a whole big rigamarole he has made a legit-sounding claim that the pink Somerset Maugham letter printed in the magazine (and on the VF website) is bogus and that the white-colored one he owns (including the envelope), which he says he purchased at a legit auction and has been somehow verified as the real deal, is legit.
“Leaving aside the tons of material that Bellinghaus claims is illegitimate, what do you and VF have to say about the Maugham letters? I’m publishing something on HE about this very soon. Do you mind getting back quickly?”
I told Bellinghaus that he isn’t helping his assertions any by misspelling the name “Somerset,” which he spells in his letter with two “m”s.