Come see how Michael Jackson squandered his fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars on high priced junk.
Four years ago, videotapes and evidence from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch were used in the failed case against him for child molestation and conspiracy. (If you’re nostalgic for that time, there’s a birthday card from Dieter Wiesner, Jackson’s German associate, in Volume 5, Page 202).
There are no discarded noses or chins.
Now most of those items can be seen for the first time by the public in five separate catalogs being published for an auction beginning April 21, 2009 in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Jackson has just filed suit against Julien’s Auctions, trying to stop this from going forward — despite the fact that he or his emissary, Tohme R. Tohme — signed contracts with Julien’s.
And this whole auction thing may get ugly fast: several behind the scenes storylines are coming together as you read this that put this auction at the center of Jackson’s financial dramas.
But in the meantime: now we can look at the stuff ourselves — Julien's has just put the catalogs online for perusal — and it’s chockablock with kooky, interesting, and mid priced valuables from Michael Jackson’s strange, strange life.
Missing, of course: a huge of collection of pornography introduced by the government at Jackson’s trial.
There are some rare pieces of memorabilia, however: check out Volume 5, page 72-73, two canvasses, one each by Macaulay Culkin and Michael Jackson, circa 1991 and 1998 respectively. And a carousel horse "gifted" by Elizabeth Taylor (Volume 4, page 163) should bring a nice price.
The creepiest parts of the catalogs for most people will be the items pertaining to children. We saw a lot of this in court back in 2005, so it’s not terribly surprising. But the average viewer may wonder about Vol. 1, page 14, the "life size sculpture of two boys on a bicycle." There are numerous sculptures of children, especially boys, not to mention of paintings and drawings of Jackson acting as a Pied Piper. Also, Vol 1, page 54: a bronze sculpture of two boys playing leapfrog, There’s a lot more like scattered through the books.
Much of Volume 1 consists of bronze sculptures, plaster casts, and other "historical" tchotchkes. The stuff isn’t worth much beyond belonging to Jackson — none of it is original or of real historical value. Think of someone with OCD weaving their way through every museum shop in the world. That’s how Jackson approached this part of his collection.
And there’s a lot — I mean, a lot — of it. Vases, furniture, you name it — all in the "style of" — all of it, shall we say, "eclectic." Volume 2, for example is just one gigantic flea market, a swap shop of rugs, runners, tables, and, yes, more sculpture. Prop houses for theater and movie companies should go wild here. I personally dug the gigantic gold throne with red velvet upholstery (Volume 2, page 190). Someone should buy it for Solomon Burke as a birthday gift.
Those generic items aren’t listed for much and won’t be hard to win at auction. The real meat of the Jackson auction comes from costumes — gloves, hats, socks, etc — used in his shows. The other artifacts that should fetch some money are all anything marked "Neverland" — giant clocks, signs, that sort of thing. Neverland has joined the ranks of the lost island of Atlantis as fantasy lands that have perished.
I was most interested by the sale of the Neverland front gates. The "parcel-gilt and black iron" huge entry to the ranch seems like something that Jackson his new partners, Colony Capital, would want to keep on the property. They would certainly make the ranch more valuable to whoever eventually bought it. And also, I do recall Jackson’s contractor telling me that the gold gates he bought for Neverland cost at least $50,000 a pop. This gate is listed only at $20,000-$30,000. (Vol. 1, page 90)
You don’t get into the real action until Volume 4, which starts off the Jackson’s collection of pinball machines and standing video arcade games. Memories of Macaulay Culkin, Emanuel Webster Lewis, Jordy Chandler, and Gavin Arvizo, are sure to be invoked by all the Star Wars, Pac Man, X Men and Simpsons games. And it’s not penny arcade stuff, but some collectibles as well: there’s even a Zoltar the Fortune Teller. And Prince may want to buy Jackson’s ride-able Little Red Corvette (Vol 4, page 26) with its own gas pump!
And then there are the real cars: a 1988 Lincoln Town Car Limousine, 1990 Rolls Royce Silver Spur II Touring Limousine, a 1999 Rolls Royce Silver Seraph Limo with 24 K gold embellishments designed exclusively by and for Jackson; a 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60. Jackson is said to have asked to hold out the two Rollses from the auction, but there is a tour bus for sale in its place. There’s also a Neverland Valley Electrified Coach. (Vol. 4, p 166)
But it’s Volume 5, which will be sold on April 25th, that should be the boon day. It contains all the personal memorabilia. There are many bejeweled and jewel encrusted items from actual crowns to socks and gloves to jackets, pants and shoes. There are also personal photographs. Brooke Shields will be pleased to know she’s the only female included with Jackson in a photo.
In one of the more ominous pictures, Jackson is shown with a boy of about 10 or 11 posing for an LA Gear ad in matching motorcycle jackets. In another Jackson is seen at his 1984 Hollywood Walk of Fame signing. He’s surrounded, in happier times, by a phalanx of police officers. It would be only a short item before many of these men in blue, or their counterparts in Santa Barbara County, would raid Neverland two or three times. The picture is one of the pricier items, maybe for its irony, at $15-20,000.