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Marilyn Monroe statue face down in dump: Mystery of knockoff's demise probed

What looked like the iconic Seward Johnson's "Forever Marilyn" statue showed up in a picture from China in a dump, but it was nothing more than a knockoff. The original statue depicting Marilyn in the movie "The Seven Year Itch" stood in downtown Chicago until 2012 and its been on the move ever since. Johnson's sculpture has called two more places home since leaving the windy city.

A knockoff of the Seward Johnson's iconic Marilyn Monroe statue is pictured face-down in a China dump.
A knockoff of the Seward Johnson's iconic Marilyn Monroe statue is pictured face-down in a China dump.
Twitter/J. Freedom du Lac

According to the Huffington Post on June 19, while this statue looks very much like the 26-foot, 17-ton Seward Johnson statue, it is a knockoff, one of many found around China these days. The real statue was moved from Chicago after it endured almost a year of vandalism, from there it went to Palm Springs where it soaked up the sun until recently.

Now the original is in New Jersey, the state where she was created, reports NJ.com. The unveiling for her new home was back in May and she sits on the green lawn of the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey. The authentic Marilyn is far away from the knockoff sitting in that dump in the Guigang perfecture of southern China.

Paula Stoeke, the director of the Sculpture Foundation that exhibits Johnson's group, said that it is "definitely not a Seward Johnson sculpture." The Santa-Monica based foundation is looking into the photo, as they were just as surprised as anyone else to see this knock-off shipped off to its final resting place of a dump.

Now that the picture has gained global attention, the local Chinese media investigation revealed that this "Seven Year Itch" Marilyn knockoff sat in front of a Guigang business center for about six months before it was retired to the dump, according to News Max today.

The mystery still remains as to why this statue was discarded in the dump. Even though it is a knockoff, this discarded statue would have probably fetched some money as a reproduction. This is not the first knockoff of Johnson's work and it probably won't be the last.

As far as the Seward Johnson original "Seven Year Itch" sculpture, after it stayed in Chicago for almost a year in 2011, it then moved to Palm Springs, California back in 2012. When the sculpture was dismantled and taken out of Chicago, many of the folks in that town were happy to see the leggy and somewhat racy statue go.

Marilyn was more than welcome in her new home of Palm Springs, they loved her! The statue was a bit more respected in Palm Springs than in Chicago, where vandalism was a concern. Palm Springs wanted to purchase the Seward Johnson sculpture so she could call their city her permanent home.

Instead the foundation continued on with its original plans of bringing Marilyn home for a Seward Johnson exhibit which opened on May 4 in Hamilton, New Jersey. The exhibit is featuring 150 pieces of Johnson's work.

After traveling 5,000 miles across the nation, Marilyn is now in New Jersey, the birthplace of her statue. Seward Johnson was on hand for the unveiling of her new home in the beginning of May. The massive statue's legs are photographed often because when standing next to the iconic lady most folks don't stand any taller than her mid-shin.

The traveling statue needs to be dismantled to move, so this is no easy feat. All 17 tons of Marilyn then needs to be reconstructed when reaching a new destination. Today she sits on green grass instead of the concrete surroundings from her last two homes. Marilyn looks as beautiful as ever surrounded by the green lawns of the New Jersey site she stands on today.