Instability of ultrathin surface oxides on alloys under environmental conditions can limit the opportunities for applications of these systems when the thickness control of the insulating oxide film is crucial for device performance. A procedure is developed to directly deposit self-assembled monolayers (SAM) from solvent onto substrates prepared under ultra-high vacuum conditions without exposure to air. As an example, rhenium photosensitizers functionalized with carboxyl linker groups are attached to ultrathin alumina grown on NiAl(1 1 0). The thickness change of the oxide layer during the SAM deposition is quantified by x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and can be drastically reduced to one atomic layer. The SAM acts as a capping layer, stabilizing the oxide thin film under environmental conditions. Ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy elucidates the band alignment in the resulting heterostructure. The method for molecule attachment presented in this manuscript can be extended to a broad class of molecules vulnerable to pyrolysis upon evaporation and presents an elegant method for attaching molecular layers on solid substrates that are sensitive to air.