TERM: LIFE OF COPYRIGHT – Last Author passed away in 1988

CATALOG: This is 25% of the overall publisher’s share of the single song “How Wrong Can I Be” that was featured in the Academy Award winning film The Shape of Water.




NOTICE: There is a 15 day option for the other owners of the song to match the final bid price of this auction. Currently, there has not been interest from the estates/trusts to do so, but the option will still have to be presented for them to decline to finalize the transaction. Also, they do not have to wait 15 days, we will work to expedite this option as soon as the auction closes.

We have a very unique private opportunity to purchase 50% of the publishing to the very first Marilyn Monroe song that was discovered just recently released. In fact, the song’s very 1st license use was a full song usage over 3 successive scenes in 2018’s Best Picture Oscar, “The Shape of Water”. Once you hear the song you will understand why it has such great brand/placement possibilities.

Here’s a bit of backstory: The current owner is a 3rd generation music publisher from the Robbins Music publishing family. When his father, Marshall Robbins passed away in 1990, he and his mother were going through a ton of his mementos, when he came across a box with a bunch of 78’s. In that box was a 78 acetate recording of a song titled “How Wrong Can I Be”, Music by Fred Karger and Lyrics by Alex Gottlieb. The backstory of how/why it took almost 30 years to get all the legalities in place and to get its 1st license use in a Best Picture Oscar is an amazing story in itself.

What makes this so unique is that it was recorded in 1950, please see attached photo and zoom in on the label. You will notice that the vocals are by Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn was just 22 years old at the time of this recording. Through more than 28 years of investigating, the seller has not found an earlier recording by Marilyn Monroe and this looks to be her very first recorded song. This truly is an amazing find, and having a 22 year old Marilyn singing it is just wow! This was recorded in a home in the Hollywood Hills with just 1 Microphone with everyone around the piano, could you imagine the visual when they recorded this?

Here’s a DISCO link – Marilyn Monroe-“How Wrong Can I Be” – Included will be the lyric sheet, restored audio version done by Audio Mechanics in Burbank and the original raw 78 straight transfer to digital. Please note that the song title is “How Wrong Can I Be”, but Marilyn sings the last line of each chorus as “How Wrong I Can Be”, just a great take on the title and I feel, makes the song that much more impactful.

The main income opportunity here is for Synch in movies and TV along with performance income.

The income from ASCAP is represented in the table. This is currently all from Cinemax plays of the movie. It will change over time as the movie moves from Cinemax to regular television. We are not able to predict if that means the income will rise or fall, but for sure this movie will continue to get played on television for years to come.

The main potential for this song will come from Synch in television or movies. The seller retains 50% of the publishing and he will continue to pitch the song not only for movies and television but also to current artists to see if he can get it re-recorded.

For Synch, as an example of income potential, The Shape of Water paid $60K for the use of the song and master. $30K for the use of the song, $15k was for the publishing, so 25% of the publishing would be $3,500.

The Shape of Water was a lower budget movie at only $19m so the license fee could go up or down based on the movies budget.


This is an interesting opportunity for someone who is willing to take on risk. If you love Marilyn Monroe and want some potential upside, then this is the song for you. There is also nothing stopping the buyer from also helping to push this song in cooperation with the Publisher to get it placed.

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