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Chicago – Struggling to pay back a loan used to buy Abraham Lincoln artifacts, the foundation that supports the 16th president’s library in Springfield, Ill., is selling a black wool dress once owned and worn by movie star Marilyn Monroe.

The three-quarter-length, long-sleeved dress with a scooped neck is the centerpiece of nine items the Lincoln foundation is putting on the block June 23 in Las Vegas. The auctioneer estimates the dress is worth $40,000 to $60,000, but could sell for much more.

“Getting (Monroe) items is becoming more and more difficult,” said Darren Julien, whose company is handling the bidding. “The supply’s less and less, but demand’s more and more because you have people in Asia and Russia and all over the world that are collecting pop culture . . .”

Two years ago, Julien’s Auctions fetched $4.8 million for the one-of-a-kind dress Monroe wore when she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy.

It’s a windfall the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation could use. The group acquired the Monroe dress as part of a private collection of more than 1,000 items from Louise Taper 11 years ago. The foundation financed the purchase with the help of a $23 million loan, scoring gloves Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated in April 1865. The trove also included a stovepipe hat that library officials are satisfied Lincoln wore but some critics question whether he ever touched.

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