Before he died, Michael Jackson was down low. Broke. The butt of jokes. “Whacko Jacko” — the man who adored children a wee too much.
Now that he’s gone, the physical worth of the man is measured in fragments.
On Friday, Julien’s Auctions sold photos of Jackson, autographed albums and other memorabilia for a hefty sum at Planet Hollywood.
Jackson’s lot was expected to gross $10,000 to $30,000. It brought in $205,000.
“He’s back on top. He’s shining with the stars in heaven,” said Warwick Stone, who bought a piece of Jackson.
A Jackson 5 album signed by the band won $27,000. Vintage photos: $2,200. A Victory Tour costume shirt of his: $42,000.
Stone, who seeks memorabilia for the walls of the Hard Rock Hotel, bid $15,000 to win a letter Jackson wrote by hand. The letter was put to bid by Liza Minnelli’s ex, David Gest. It reads verbatim: “Greg thanks for a Magic Momment in my life, I hope it was the same for you, please come to visit me at Neverland. let’s hope this is the Beginning of a long friendship and never lose your Boyish Spirit its imortal. Love always” and it’s signed, “M. Jackson.”
“It’s Smithsonian quality memorabilia,” Stone explained.
“If you like him, you say, ‘That’s beautiful Michael Jackson.’ If you hate him, you say, ‘That’s evil Michael Jackson.’ ”
Stone plans to frame the mash note and hang it in a new Hard Rock wing. Stone finds it is sad but true that it takes dying to put Jackson’s value “back on top”:
“I don’t want to be thought of as the cynic, but it does.”
“His equity has been sealed,” Stone said — meaning the late Jackson can no longer create new memorabilia, nor cause fluctuations in his market.
Other goods are yet to be hauled. Julien’s cataloged all of Jackson’s Neverland Ranch for auction, since Jackson was in a serious money jam.
But Jackson sued. He and Julien’s reached a deal. Jackson did approve of Julien’s plan to sell three Rolls-Royces, then he changed his mind — he wanted someday to give the cars to his three kids as wedding gifts, said Martin J. Nolan, executive director of Julien’s.
“Sadly, he won’t be around to see them down the aisle,” Nolan said.
Julien’s auction space at Planet Hollywood is a salute to superstars who died by prescription drugs.
Today at Planet Hollywood, Julien’s sells Marilyn Monroe’s stuff — shoes, the robe found by her death bed, her massage table and other fluffy things.
Friday’s auction did well not only by Jackson, but by Elvis’ guns, clothes and empty pill bottles (one bottle fetched more than $7,000).
Stone bought one of Elvis’ “flashy beaded stage shirts” for $31,000 but passed up a gun, because he already owns one of Elvis’ .357 Magnums:
“Mine’s better. It’s bigger.”