Friday, June 26, 2009

Neverland sale: Michael Jackson memorabilia auction

A triptych by David Nordhal featuring Michael Jackson is seen on display in Beverly Hills

A hotly anticipated sale of Michael Jackson memorabilia will go ahead as planned, organisers said, as they lifted the veil on a treasure trove of items from the Neverland Ranch of the eccentric former "King of Pop"

Picture: AFP/GETTY

Michael Jackson sale cancelled as singer reaches deal with auction house

A collection of Michael Jackson's possessions from his Neverland Ranch will not go under the hammer after the pop singer and auction house reached a settlement over whether the 2,000 items were ever intended for sale.

Michael Jackson Neverland sale cancelled
Michael Jackson: the sale of items from his Neverland ranch has been called off Photo: PA

The announcement brings to an end weeks of wrangling over the memorabilia, which included Jackson's iconic, jewel-encrusted glove and a customised Rolls-Royce limousine.

"There was so much interest from so many of Jackson's fans that instead of putting the items in the hands of private collectors, Dr. Tohme and Julien's Auction House have made arrangements that will allow the collection to be shared with and enjoyed by Jackson's fans for many years to come," read a joint statement from Jackson's spokesman Dr. Tohme R. Tohme and auction organiser Darren Julien.

Details of the deal were scare, but it seems the items may be put on temporary exhibition, instead of being sold.

Jackson's production company, MJJ Productions, sued the auction house in early March, seeking to halt the sale by arguing that Jackson hadn't authorised it. A judge blocked one effort by MJJ Productions to cancel it earlier this month, and another was scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday for an injunction.

"I believe both sides are pleased with the resolution," as spokesman for the auction house said.

Mr Julien has said he spent $2 million organising the sale, which another auctioneer estimated could have fetched $12 million after its April 22 start.

The exhibition in Beverly Hills costs $20 to attend, and auction catalogues — a $50 single volume and $200, five-volume boxed set — were still selling, Mr Julien said.

The statement also said MJJ Productions and Julien's Auction House would be making a "substantial" donation to MusiCares to benefit artists in need.

Mr Julien said all of Jackson's possessions, which the auction house took directly from the Neverland Ranch property, would be returned to the pop singer. He would not say where they would be taken.

"It's been our hopes to resolve this in the beginning, when the lawsuit was filed," he said. "It was in our best interest to resolve it. We continue to have great respect for Michael Jackson. ... I guess you could call it the greatest auction that never happened."

The singer has struggled financially following his arrest in 2003 on charges that he molested a 13-year-old boy. A jury acquitted him of all charges.

Last year he faced foreclosure on Neverland, the 2,500-acre property nestled in the hills of Santa Barbara County's wine country, 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles. He was bailed out by Colony Capital, and months later transferred the deed to Neverland to another entity he partially controls.

Jackson plans a series of concerts in London in July that he has said will be his last in the British capital.

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