The museum which lent a historic gown once worn by Marilyn Monroe to Kim Kardashian for the Met Gala has been labelled "irresponsible" after new images appearing to show damage to the dress.
Marilyn's iconic dress was worn for her famous 1962 performance of Happy Birthday to US president John F Kennedy, and is the most expensive dress ever sold at auction, having gone under the hammer for $4.8 million (£4m).
Nowadays, it is kept on display at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum, but was controversially loaned to Kim for this year's Met Gala red carpet, where she wore the gown for just minutes before changing into a replica.
Releasing pictures appearing to show the damage, Scott Fortner – a Marilyn historian and collector – has said the museum's only intention in allowing Kim to wear the outfit was been “publicity," and that more should have been done to protect the “cultural icon”.
The snaps appear to show some crystals missing, while the zip has looks to be more distressed.
Scott's images have sparked a backlash against Kim online, with social media users blaming her for the gown’s condition, but the collector told the PA agency he had not intended for the outrage to be directed at the reality star.
“I think the disappointment that I’m experiencing is Ripley has made multiple statements that they were doing everything that they could to protect and preserve the gown,” he said.
“I do feel that it [was] irresponsible, this is not just a dress. This is a cultural icon. It’s a political icon. It’s a Hollywood icon.
“It’s part of American history from an event that happened 60 years ago and…it should have been archived and preserved and taken care of.”
He added: “I think a lot of people are really kind of coming down really hard on Kim Kardashian and that’s not my attempt here. It’s the most famous dress in the world.
“Who wouldn’t want to wear the dress if they were given an opportunity to do so?” he asked.
The historian, who has curated his own private collection of Marilyn artefacts, said the gown was now “irreparable” as it was no longer possible to purchase the fabric it was made from.
Following the Met Gala, Kim shared a picture of the skin-tight gown, which was adorned with more than 6,000 crystals and hand-sewn by costumier Jean Louis.
Speaking about Ripley’s decision to loan the dress to Kim, Scott said: “It’s unclear to me what the motivation was other than publicity.
“Because the amount of publicity that’s come from this has been really priceless, you couldn’t pay for the amount of publicity they’d have gotten and that’s really the only thing that I can think of as a reason for them to do it.”
OK! has contacted Kim's representative for comment.
After sporting the dress on the red carpet, Kim gave fans a look behind-the-scenes at her fittings in videos released online.
The star also explained how she lost 16lbs in just three weeks in order to fit into the gown, sparking huge criticism online.
Despite the backlash, Kim doubled down on her defending her actions in a recent interview, likening her weight loss to when Christian Bale dropped almost five stone for his starring role in The Machinist.
"I didn’t do anything unhealthy," she said. "OK, Christian Bale can do it for a movie role and that is acceptable.
Kim continued: "Even Renée Zellweger gained weight for a role. It’s all the same to me. I wasn’t saying, 'Hey everyone, why don’t you go lose this weight in a short period of time?'."
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