March 25, 2009
It's a good thing Michael Jackson didn't go with the "over my dead body" ultimatum.
Despite the comebacking King of Pop's legal objections, a Beverly Hills auction house is going ahead with a planned sell-off of nearly 2,000 pieces of furniture, clothing and other Jackson memorabilia that the company was asked to cart off from Neverland Ranch last year.
Some of the items on the block, such as a few of the Thriller artist's Jewel-encrusted gloves (including the glove), a black fedora and a couple of MTV Video Music Awards, will be on display starting Wednesday at the Hard Rock Cafe in NYC's Times Square.
"It will be the last time you can see these items publicly unless they're purchased by a major museum," Julien's Auctions proprietor Darren Julien told the New York Daily News.
But while Julien is championing the goodies for sale, he is still required to go through the motions in court.
In court documents filed in response to Jackson's fraud lawsuit, Julien reiterates that the singer's estate asked him to take the Neverland treasure trove off its hands and that all the items were toted away under the close supervision of Jacko's employees-who were also involved in writing press releases and approving the auction-catalog cover art, Julien says.
He willingly returned any items that Jackson wanted back, and the move to block the sale came as a complete surprise, the filing states.
"To say [Jackson] hadn't intended for these items to be auctioned was disappointing," Julien told the Daily News. "I can't disclose where we're at [legally], but I know everything's definitely well documented from our end."
Jackson's production company sued Julien March 4 to block the sale, claiming Jackson never signed off on the final for-sale list, as per his agreement with the auction house.
In a sworn statement, Julien claims that one of Jackson's employees tried to strong-arm him into canceling the auction, warning him that he would be in danger "from [Louis] Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam" if he didn't comply.
"He told us that [Jackson's rep] Dr. Tohme and Michael Jackson wanted to give the message to us 'that our lives are at stake and there will be bloodshed,'" Julien stated.
Alan Gutman, an attorney for MJJ Productions, has called Julien's allegation a desperate attempt to divert attention from his own wrongdoing.
Both sides have agreed to the memorabilia's current publicity tour, however, according to Julien, who is predicting that the auction, set to take place April 22-25, could fetch between $10 million and $20 million.
Jackson will get all the proceeds, minus auction-house commissions. Speaking of proceeds, all 50 of the artist's planned shows starting July 9 at London's O2 Arena are sold out.