How much would you be willing to pay to own something left behind by your favorite celebrity? For one particularly determined Marilyn Monroe fan, the price tag associated with owning a bit of Hollywood history cost him nearly $40,000.
Last week, Julien's Auctions sold off a slate of star-studded memorabilia that included, among other unusual items, two locks of Monroe's hair.
The locks from the estate of Monroe super-fan Frieda Hull, who had obtained the hair from the Tinseltown starlet's hairdresser, sold for a whopping $70,000 combined. Julien's originally expected the hair to sell for only a few thousand dollars.
One of the bidders on Monroe's golden tresses was Remi Gangarossa, a 31-year-old Chicago financial professional. Despite his relatively young age, Gangarossa told CNBC he'd been "infatuated" with Hollywood and one of its most tragic icons for most of his life.
"I'm a pretty big saver," Gangarossa—who grew up in Buffalo, New York—said in a phone interview. "Every so often there are things in this world that are impossible to come by. I saw an opportunity to be a part of Marilyn Monroe legacy."
Julien's does not disclose the winners of its auctions, but representatives of the company confirmed to CNBC that Gangarossa had indeed placed the winning bid on Monroe's hair.
In addition, Gangarossa produced an invoice showing he paid more than $37,000 for the Hollywood curio, a purchase that he told CNBC did not leave him financially strapped or in debt.
Fate may have intervened to grant Gangarossa one of his biggest wishes. He explained that Julien's was originally scheduled to auction a slate of Monroe's former property in November, but decided to auction just a few of her items off in a separate event, which took place last weekend.
"I quickly had to buy a ticket to Los Angeles" from Chicago, he said. "I flew out there specifically with one mission…walk out of this auction house with her hair."
He's already booked passage to attend the second Julien's auction of Monroe memorabilia next month, but said that, given how much he'd already shelled out for a piece of history, he was unlikely to buy anything.
Gangarossa acknowledged the idea of buying a deceased person's hair, not to mention paying what's arguably a high price for it, may sound "weird" to the average person - even in an age where celebrity-obsessed fans are known to go to extraordinary lengths to get closer to their favorite stars. So what's the attraction in owning a lock of someone's hair, however famous?
"Hollywood can be fun and idolizing celebrities comes with the business, but at the end of the day, celebrities are just regular people," he told CNBC.
"To me, the hair is symbolic of the fact that Marilyn Monroe was flesh and blood like the rest of us. Even if she was only human, I must admit, there was still something absolutely magical about her," Gangarossa added.
The Chicago resident said he had already received offers to buy the hair, but "I said absolutely not," Gangarossa told CNBC. "It's an interesting thing to know my investment was worth it, but it's not for sale."
Among other items sold by Julien's at the auction, the ashes of author Truman Capote went for $45,000.