February 26, 2009

The Skeeving Of Lot 1069: Little Kid Stuff From The Michael Jackson Auction

Apr 15 UPDATE: The NY Times reports that the auction, which Jackson had originally authorized, then recently opposed, has been canceled. Also, instead of "the large turnout" that had been expected, "only a few dozen fans and passers-by were on hand" for the preview.

Never having visited Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch myself, I can only assume that you entered it through a giant gate carved with the phrase, "Abandon all commonly accepted notions of the term 'age appropriate' all ye who enter here."

The place was the pure, unrestrained physical manifestation of the desires of a lonely, damaged small child--who won like five lotteries. As the five-volume sale catalogue published by celebrity memorabilia-ist Julien's Auctions clearly demonstrates.

For reasons we won't get into here, a great many of the items being sold on April 24th, in Sessions V and VI: Amusements, Arcade Games, and Disneyana, seem to hold great appeal for tween-aged boys. But there are a few lots which are more appropr--you know what, I can't type it-- they're sized for kids as young as two or three or five. They are collected after the jump.


Lot 1069, a custom-made chair designed in such a way that when you sit on it, you're sitting in the lap of Michael Jackson's self-designated alter ego, Peter Pan, is not one of them.

First and foremost, Lot 870: A custom-made fiberglass sculpture of Baby Sylvester with some baby blocks, such as you might find in any Looney Tunes-themed nursery of any Warner Brothers executive or ex-King of Pop. [Note: I would normally include the auction house's estimates in a roundup like this, but Julien's estimates are based entirely on the reality of the objects for sale and make no attempt to account for the unreality of an auction involving Michael Jackson which is taking place during a global depression. Who knows?]


Lots 871 and 872 are old timey reproduction pedal cars of no particular interest if they didn't come with the possibility that they were purchased for Michael Jackson's own [sic] kids.

Lot 875: a set of children's seating furniture custom-decorated [see comments below] totally mass-produced, off the shelf, with the completely unremarkable phrases, "Always a Prince" and "The Crown Jewels."


Prince is the name of Jackson's first and third children. Though if this furniture belonged to the younger kid, you'd assume it would say, "Also a Prince."


Lot 899: the first of four elaborately carved rocking horses. I think they're all too big for a kid to ride by himself.


Lot 900: a zoetrope table, is one of the very few lots whose appeal isn't based on surrealism, bizarreness, or kitsch. Still, if you really want a zoetrope table, do you want to fight a bidding war with rabid Michael Jackson fans to get it? I think not.


Lot 913: A Victorian dollhouse, partially furnished, is one of the few girly toys in the giant auction. Go figure.


And no, Lot 934: a Wizard of Oz dollhouse does not count as a girly toy, not when its owner was in The Wiz, and not when it's pictured next to a quote from MJ about how videocassettes destroyed the magic of children waiting all year to watch The Wizard of Oz on television.


Lot 937: Peter Rabbit diorama bookends are the most normal lot in the sale. Until they sell for $6,000 to some woman who can't afford health insurance.


Lot 940: Life-size fiberglass figure of a Shirley Temple-style girl. That's right, it's not even Shirley Temple, just "Shirley Temple-style." This is by far the creepiest-looking of the dozens of life-size figures for sale, and only one of two children. [the other is Peter Pan's nightshirt-wearing buddy John Darling. There is no Wendy.] The rest are all old people: pinched-faced grandmothers having tea and eager-looking butlers and such. I have no idea what it all means.


Katie, bar the door! Lot 961: To MJ, Love ET Rocking Carousel Horse It's a full-sized, custom-made rocking horse, a signed gift from ET. No, the other ET, Elizabeth Taylor.


Lot 971: An actual, old tricycle, minus any of the information that might be useful to a collector of vintage tricycles.


Lots 982-4: a bunch of ride-on toys, mentioned here only for completeness.


Lot 987: A pair of Anthony Brothers Convert-O-Bike tricycles. Whether it's a zoetrope or these sweet aluminum trikes which carry an estimate of less than half the replacement cost of one new one, the scariest thing about reading the Neverland auction catalogue is that moment you find yourself saying, "Hey! Cool! Maybe I should bid on that!"

The Collection of Michael Jackson, Apr 22-25th [juliensauctions.com via dt reader dt]
related: Fun at the Neverland Ranch: Michael Jackson's cars at auction [blog.hemmings.com]


Some of things are readily available on the market ie the Prince chair. Most of the other things are either scary or meh. I do like the rocking horse though. Sad that someone is going to buy these just because they are related to a pop star.

Indeed. DT reader Anne forwarded me her comment on those chairs, and on the auction generally:

Lot 875: a set of children's seating furniture custom-decorated with the completely unremarkable phrases, "Always a Prince" and "The Crown Jewels."

I don't know if it helps or not, but I've seen chairs very similar to this (same text, different color scheme) for sale at Home Goods within the past two years. In fact (Googles a little) here's the same chair for sale at Toys-R-Us right now. And Here's the toybox.

I get where you're going with this (and I don't disagree, entirely) but it kind of makes me wonder what kind of conclusions people would draw about me from what I own. Long before my son was born my house was full of toys that were sold - and sized - for boys ages 2-8. I was a pretty serious toy collector back in the day - focusing on Castle themed toys and Fisher Price - and I certainly know folks who collect subsets like Pedal cars and rocking horses. And even Peter Pan related items.

Also, as you note, the man has three children. What I find kind of sad here is that the toys and belongings of his children may be on the auction block. That always makes me sad, especially when there is a chance the seller needs to sell their children's things in order to pay the bills. There's a lot of pathos in this auction.

Having their toys sold is hardly the worst thing this particular set of kids has been through.

Let us remember MJ's childhood--or that of any kid star--was not so great, either. But unlike Mrs. Temple Black, I don't pick him for an Ambassadorship.

We believe my husband was the sculpture of the "shirley temple like' figure. He made Michael a Shirley Temple many years ago. This figure looks a bit changed. We hope to visit the aution tomorrow to see if it is the same. My husband's had some "distinguishing" features.
I agree with the one writer, I have some odd things too. I have a collection of dolls that people might think was weird. Mary Englebreit stuffed.

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