It was a charged weekend at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills — most of all, during the paddle war over one of Michael Jackson's most crowd-pleasing staples: the Swarovski-studded glove he wore throughout the “Bad” tour.
Though the crowd of 200 auction elites was cheering on an in-house bidder for the win — already pushing him $200,000 over his self-set limit of $100,000 — an anonymous international caller (which the New York Daily News has identified as Hong Kong hotel exec Hoffman Ma) pressed on, finally taking the sweaty, makeup-stained artifact for a staggering $330,000. After taxes, that's $420,000.
“And I think he would have gone higher,” says auctioneer Darren Julien. Hot damn.
Julien describes the glove as “amazingly made” — a one-of-a-kind stunner by Jackson designers Denis Tompkins and Michael Bush. Unlike similar pieces for photo shoots, on which the crystals studded the palm, the $330,000 prize was studded on the outside to allow for easy microphone maneuvering. (Tompkins and Bush are also said to be the geniuses behind Jackson's court ensembles, which we hope don't include those god-awful pajama pants.)
Ma told the Daily News:
“It was a bargain — we were expecting to pay more. We're going to put it on display in our hotel. It will be free for everyone.”
Not to worry: Underbidder went home happy with the $96,000 “Beat It” jacket and no splurge remorse to speak of.
The glove, like most of Julien's stock, came from an anonymous donor who had been keeping it under wraps until the auction. Julien takes a commission from each item — enough to pay one to four security guards 24 hours a day, seven days a week in an unmarked, windowless warehouse in Beverly Hills.
All for a load of dead people's crap. Not that we wouldn't shave our left eyebrow for a day with that glove…
The “Icons & Idols” event on Friday and Saturday featured the most “extensive collection of John Lennon/Beatles memorabilia ever come to public auction.” Said collection included the loop-and-button jacket that inspired the Sgt. Peppers costumes after John Lennon wore for it a Life Magazine shoot. This weekend, it was snatched up by Museo de la Moda in Santiago, Chile, for $240,000.
“Lennon originally donated the jacket to the Salvation Army,” Julien says — but the driver of the donation truck pulled that baby out in one hot minute; it's seen many private estates and museum display cases since then.
Jackson-related items were by far the biggest earners, though: His Ray Bans went for over $5,000, while his fedora went for almost triple the amount — $72,000 — as Frank Sinatra's. And the latter was monogrammed, to boot. Wack.
The rest of the almost 700 items were hit or miss. An X-ray of Albert Einstein's brain went for $38,750, and, glamorously, some old Marilyn Monroe prescription pill bottles went for $10,000 a pop. Vivien Leigh's “Gone With the Wind” blouse sold for over $18,000. On the other hand, Cher and Kirk Douglas probably paid more for their pants in the first place than bidders did: Both went for under $100. Ever heard of eBay? [For a full inventory of the items and going prices, click here.]
Yesterday, after the Jackson chaos had ebbed, a less expensive but highly sought-after batch of Johnny Cash memorabilia filled the same auction house.
Awesomely, the star of the show — at $50,000, shelled out by an anonymous caller from Belgium — was that jumpsuit Cash wore for the San Quentin rehearsals, made famous by that classic “Fuck you” poster hanging in college dorms everywhere.
He may not have had any real bad-ass reason to wear them, but we're thinking this kind of redeems the whole fake-criminal schtick.
Update: More photos from the “Icons & Idols” collection: