Madonna: The Stolen Bustier

Madonna and the L.A. riots

In April 1992, during the L.A. riots, the famed Frederick’s of Hollywood was looted, and Madonna’s black bustier with gold tassels, worn in her video for “Open Your Heart,” was swiped from the celebrity Lingerie Museum.

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter

Madonna’s original bustier was never returned (despite a $1,000 reward from Frederick’s), but the Queen of Pop eventually gave the museum a replacement in exchange for a $10,000 donation to an organization that supplied free mammograms to the poor.

A month after the brassiere was lifted, the New York Times covered the Frederick’s robbery in an article entitled “After the Riots: Confessions of a Star-Struck Looter.” In it, a man identified as “Jim B.” — a 24-year-old art student from the San Fernando Valley with seemingly no attachment to Rodney King and the subsequent movement — offers a detailed recollection of the mayhem in Hollywood: $200,000 worth of women’s undergarments were stolen — 80 percent of the merchandise at the main store — in addition to a handful of one-of-a-kind celebrity items from the museum: the bustier; a pair of Ava Gardner’s bloomers; and a push-up bra worn by the character Peg Bundy in Married…With Children.

As Jim B. recounted, he knew what he wanted before he even stepped foot into the store. “I was after Madonna’s negligee that she would wear live in concert,” he told the newspaper. But it had already been swiped. So Jim B. did what any panty thief would do: he settled for the bloomers and the push-up bra.

But wait… Jim B.’s conscience got the best of him. B. eventually turned over the bloomers and bra to a local priest, Father Bob Fambrini at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood.

“I broke down,” Jim B. told the Times. “I was in bad shape. It was a very emotional moment. I unzipped the bag full of loot, and I choked up and couldn’t even say anything.”

Father Fambrini, probably very confused when Jimmy first approached him, eventually returned the items on behalf of the world’s worst criminal.

Had he made it to Frederick’s sooner and grabbed the good stuff, would Mr. B. have given Madonna’s bustier to Father F? (See: Madonna and Catholicism.) We’ll never know.

I now leave you with the bustier in all its glory. The bustier as it’s meant to be remembered. Rest in peace, gold tassels.