Marilyn Nudes Go Unsold

09/10/1997 at 12:00 AM EDT

Five iconographic photos of a nude Marilyn Monroe taken in 1949 failed to sell at auction on Thursday night, when bidding failed to reach the undisclos ed reserve price, reports Reuters. The sale, conducted by Butterfields auction house in Los Angeles, brought a high bid of $850,000, though apparently that wasn't high enough. Tom Kelly Jr., whose father Tom Kelly took the pictures (one of which served as the first centerfold in Playboy magazine), said in a statement that prospective buyers did not understand that the pictures carried intellectual property rights (meaning that the buyer could exploit the images as he or she desired). Critics of the auction, however, said when the auction was first announced that the pictures were already overexposed and even available on the Internet. Monroe died in 1962 at the age of 36.

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