By Keen Zhang
China.org.cn senior entertainment writer
"Michael Jackson is allowing us to conduct this auction because he wants to move on to the next chapter in his life," Darren Julien, the President of the Julien's Auctions told China.org.cn in an exclusive interview, in which he explained why the Gloved One is going ahead with a sell-off of about 2,000 personal items at Beverly Hills in April, despite the world's worst economic crisis.
An original painting on stretched canvas featuring popular culture and historic figures all wearing Jackson's icnoic sunglasses and glove. Estimate: $1,000 - $2,000 [China.org.cn/Julien's Auctions/Shaan Kokin]
The array of curiosities to go under the hammer include Jackson's iconic white-jeweled glove, a golf cart with Peter Pan-emblazoned cushions, the razor-hands Johnny Depp sported in the movie Edward Scissorhands, a basketball signed by Michael Jordan, MTV Award and Grammy nomination certificates, concert costumes, fabulous furniture, sculpture, fine art, and, not least, the grandiose entrance gates to his infamous Neverland Ranch.
China.org.cn has obtained some world exclusive photos never before seen from the auctioneer (Click here to view).
Julien's Auctions will host a 8-day exhibition at 9900 Wilshire, next to The Beverly Hilton, Los Angeles, from Tuesday April 14 through Monday April 21. The auction itself begins on April 22 and runs through Saturday April 25; it will be broadcast live on the Internet by Auction Network.
Before then, Darren Julien told China.org.cn, highlight items will be exhibited in Dublin from March 6 - 22, and New York from March 24 - 30, to give fans and the public a chance to peak inside the magical but odd world of Michael Jackson.
"We expect the auction to bring in US$1.5 - US$3 million," Julien said.
Part of the proceeds will benefit the MusiCares founded by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States.
As the "Thriller" singer is said to be in debt to the tune of over US$300 million, there is speculation that the sell-off is part of a plan to pay back his creditors. But Darren Julien said that it was not a forced sale, and the reclusive megastar just wanted to move on.
"When he closed down Neverland, he did not want to put everything in storage," Julien said, "It took him more than 30 years to collect all these items." he added.
After his acquittal of child molestation charges in June 2005, Michael Jackson never returned to his Neverland Ranch; in a Fox News interview the star said he no longer saw the place as "home." The 2800-acre California ranch, including a theme park and a zoo, was once used to give special treats to young children, the ill and the disabled. But prosecutors accused Jackson of carrying out child molestations there, and meticulous police searches of the ranch included cutting the mattress on Jackson's bed into pieces.
"He hasn't been there since the trial," Jackson's elder sister La Toya, 52, told The Sun in January, "He says he never wants to see it again. He doesn't want to be there. The memories are so awful."
On November 11, 2008 Jackson transferred the Neverland title deeds to Sycamore Valley Ranch Company LLC, a joint venture between Jackson, and an affiliate of Colony Capital LLC run by billionaire Thomas Barrack Junior. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal last June, Colony executives "consider the residence completely toxic to Jackson's image, and are urging him to restore the property's original name, Sycamore Canyon Ranch, and to sell it as quickly as possible". This stark assessment may have prompted Jackson to green light the auction.
"I don't think that he will be giving us any other items after this auction," Julien said, but the veteran auctioneer is confident that Jackson "will come to view the exhibition."
"But it is not likely that he will come to the auction," he added, "However, with Michael Jackson, you never know."
Michael Jackson is living in a lavish mansion in the swanky Bel Air district of Los Angeles, his spokesman said. Even though there is no sign of new album from the "King of Pop", rumors have appeared in the British press that the singer is in final talks on a £150 million deal to stage 30 concerts at the vast O2 arena in London from July.