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When losing isn’t losing at all: Marilyn Monroe Estate acquires rights to Shaw Family Archives images

February 17, 2012 4 Comments »
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Interesting twist in the relations between parties once suing each other.  Those who would cite Shaw as evidence that Marilyn Monroe “lost” would do well to consider subsequent developments since that ruling (a suspect ruling, no less, based on likely  inaccuracies concerning the status of New York law in 1962, and where exactly Monroe was domiciled).  Aside from the rights of Marilyn Monroe being acquired in a multi-million dollar transaction with a venture capital investment company (here’s a link to my write-up on that acquisition:  http://rightofpublicity.com/marilyn-monroes-intellectual-property-rights-sold ), we now see that Marilyn Monroe’s “Estate” (as it is called in the Wall Street Journal article cited below) is saving the Shaw Family Archives from bankruptcy and lifting them out of its relationship with its long-time licensing agent, Bradford Licensing (a party also involved in the Monroe/Shaw litigation).

In exchange for a reported payout of $75,000, those in control of Marilyn Monroe’s rights are guaranteeing $3 million in earnings over the span of a five year deal.  As a result, Marilyn Monroe’s “Estate” will have licensing control over the images.  And to think, this goes right to the heart of the issues in that litigation years ago.  Guess losing isn’t losing at all!

Here’s a link to the court filing addressing these details:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/81621871/Shaw-Brad-Ford

And here’s a link to the Wall Street Journal’s reporting of the story, with more details concerning the situation:  http://blogs.wsj.com/bankruptcy/2012/02/14/marilyn%E2%80%99s-moving-on/?mod=dist_smartbrief#


4 Responses to “When losing isn’t losing at all: Marilyn Monroe Estate acquires rights to Shaw Family Archives images”

  1. Lee Strasberg (Marilyn’s acting coach) and Dr. Marianne Kris (Marilyn’s psychiatrist) ended up on Marilyn’s last “WILL” (drafted January 14, 1961). They received the largest and most important parts of Marilyn’s Estate after her suspicious death. The ethical standards that are in place today describe the relationship between Teacher and Student and Psychiatrist and Patient. And in clear legal terms it is unethical for people in positions of authority to accept gifts, gratuities or favors that might appear or appear to influence professional decisions or action. It is also unethical to act in a manner that goes beyond the bounds of professional behavior (i.e. attempting to claim Marilyn as a family member). The very fact that these two people are on that “WILL” is a breach of ethical standards that would never hold up in any court today. Both Lee Strasberg and Dr. Marianne Kris should have immediately removed themselves from that “WILL”. In no uncertain terms it is clear that both Lee Strasberg and Dr. Marianne Kris violated their professional relationship with Marilyn. I will publically and personally hold Anna Strasberg/Lee Strasberg Theatre and Acting Institute/Authentic Brands Group/ and the Anna Freud Center in breach of Professional Ethical Standards until Marilyn Monroe’s Estate is returned to Berniece Miracle, who is the rightful heir to Marilyn’s Estate.

  2. [...] Here's the problem for Ms. Monroe's heirs: when she died in 1962, her state of domicile, New York, didn't recognize any post mortem publicity rights (to this day, New York is one of the few holdouts not recognizing this posthumous property right, click here). Also, under New York probate law, Marilyn Monroe's will can't gift a property right that didn't exist when she died. Bottom line: the heirs lose (although some creative financial engineering by the estate may have saved the day anyway, click here). [...]

  3. [...] Here’s the problem for Ms. Monroe’s heirs: when she died in 1962, her state of domicile, New York, didn’t recognize any post mortem publicity rights (to this day, New York is one of the few holdouts not recognizing this posthumous property right, click here). Also, under New York probate law, Marilyn Monroe’s will can’t gift a property right that didn’t exist when she died. Bottom line: the heirs lose (although some creative financial engineering by the estate may have saved the day anyway, click here). [...]

  4. jfaber says:

    I approved the pingback from this website to http://www.rightofpublicity.com but I have to note two things:
    1. Marilyn Monroe’s domicile probably was California, not New York as is popularly assumed; domicile is determined by decedent’s intent and there is more evidence to indicate Marilyn’s intent was to make California her domicile (a person can have more than one domicile for tax purposes, so the filing of an tax-related affidavit and probate of her estate in NY should not be determinative); and
    2. New York at the time of Marilyn’s death did recognize rights equivalent to a posthumous right of publicity. It wasn’t until the 1980s that a decision overturned decades of judicial expansion of New York’s section 50 and 51 rights. That decision is the one that should be getting much more attention. But if the assumption is that those rights didn’t exist at the time of her death and thus didn’t pass into her estate and can’t be enforced in present time, that assumption is wrong and the rights were recognizable at the time of her death, and thus were capable of passing to her estate.

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