There is no debate on the fact that Marilyn Monroe was an icon and she continues to be there nearly six decades after her untimely death. Monroe and his likeness are still big businesses, generating millions of dollars per year. Monroe’s photographs and likenesses are used to sell everything from T-shirts to posters to major chains to coffee mugs and beyond. When Merlin died in 1962, he left no heirs and his total assets were $ 800,000, which today amounts to about $ 7,000. She was not very responsible for her money and spent it dearly on jewelry, clothes and homes, as well as giving money to relatives, employees and strangers. After his estate was settled, his fortune was reduced to about $ 370,000. In his will, he gave $ 10,000 to his long-time assistant and his half-sister. He placed $ 5,000 in a trust fund for the education of his assistant’s child. She left a $ 100,000 trust fund for her mother.
Her physical assets were left to her acting coach Lee Strasberg, during whose life she was very close. In fact, Lee and his first wife Paula were originally Merlin’s parents. Strasbourg was also relinquished 75% of its intellectual property rights. The remaining 25% her doctor. Marianne was given to Chris. In 1980, Chris passed away, and his share in Monroe’s estate earned him a steady year-round income. Kris left his money at the Anna Freud Center for the Psychoanalytic Study and Treatment of Children in London.
Paula Strasburg died in 1966, four years after Monroe’s death. In 1967, Lee married 28-year-old actress Anna Mizrahi of Venezuela. When Lee died in 1982, Anna suddenly became the owner of 75% of Monroe’s assets. It is unclear whether Anna and Merlin ever met, but for this story, we will assume that they did not. Anna did quite well with her share of Munro’s wealth. She signed deals for thousands of products and advertisements for Monroe’s image. Ana transformed Monroe into one of the world’s highest-grossing dead celebrities and earned $ 30 million for herself in the process. Eventually, Anna partnered with celebrity management company CMG, which allegedly guaranteed Anna a minimum of $ 1 million per year. CMG’s core business is essentially the completion of images of dead celebrities. However, as it turned out, Anna earned more than $ 7.5 million in license revenue in just four years between 1996 and 2000. In 2000, Anna created Merlin Munro, LLC.
In 2005, four lawsuits filed the successors of Anna, CMG and four photographers who took photographs of Merlin against each other for license. The lawsuits were filed in California, New York and Indiana. The central issue in all of them was whether Monroe was a resident of California or New York at the time of his death. If Anna were proved right, Monroe was a California and would retain the right to license Monroe’s celebrity images, for which four photographers had copyrights. If she had been a New Yorker, photographers could have wiped out Anna’s business to retain Merlin’s image. In California, heirs retain postmortem publicity rights to copyrighted photographs. In New York, photographers retain the rights to their work.
It took seven years and many appeals for these lawsuits to finally be settled. In 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Monroe was a resident of New York and would retain the rights to license her images of the actress without approval from photographers’ heirs Ana Strasberg and CMG.
However, in a very interesting turn of events, in the prior year, January 2011, Anna cashed in and sold her estimated 75% stake in the Monroe Estate to the Authentic Brand Group for $ 20-30 million.
It was Anna Strasberg, the smartest, most creative and clever business man in the whole mess. Today, Anna Strasbourg is 81 years old.