Collectors pay tribute to Michael Jackson, one year after his death

It's exactly a year today since Michael Jackson, aka The King of Pop, passed away - leaving behind him a legacy which burns stronger than ever.

Aside from the inevitable wealth of news coverage across the globe, the anniversary has also been marked by the unveiling of a previously unseen photograph of the singer, by Arno Bali.

Bali reportedly ended up working with Jackson after the singer spotted his work in a fashion magazine. And the resulting image is so iconic that it's amazing it hasn't been seen until now...

Jackson photographed by Arno Bali
back in 1999

Taken in 1999 and featuring Jackson with a mysterious 'blue eye', the image will be auctioned by Pierre Berge in Paris, next month.

Bidding will start at €1,000, but the value is almost guaranteed to skyrocket; especially judging by the overall market performances of Jackson memorabilia over the past year.

The appreciation of Jackson memorabilia values since his death has been staggering. For instance, during the singer's lifetime, Andy Warhol's five portraits of Jackson were never among his most popular works.

One sold for $278,000 in May 2009, while another was left without a buyer. Today, however, Jackson's legacy is arguably on a par with Warhol's greatest subject: Marilyn Monroe.

But it didn't take long for collectors and investors to realise this. In the months following Jackson's death, a Warhol Jackson portrait sold for a smooth $1m in New York.

The same piece sold for just $287,000 at Sotheby's earlier that year, in May 2009.

Jackon's 'Holy Grail' rhinestone glove

Another item which proved as valuable as it is iconic was Jackson's famous rhinestone glove. The singer wore many throughout his career, but was wearing this one when he unveiled his famous Moonwalk dance onstage in 1983.

Billed as the "Holy Grail" of Michael Jackson memorabilia, the glove smashed its pre-sale estimate of £30,000 in a Hong Kong auction - eventually selling for £212,000.

While Jackson art and memorabilia have proved lucrative, what about autographs? That question was answered by the sale of the handwritten lyrics to one of Jackson's most important songs - if not the most important.

Scrawled by the singer himself, the lyrics for his 1983 hit single Beat It were a key part in the creation of the song that helped his Thriller album become the best-selling long-player of all time.

The pen-scrawled Beat It lyrics went under the hammer at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York with an estimate of $2,000-4,000. And its consignor was in for a very pleasant surprise: the historic lyrics realised a final value of $60,000.

With sales like these taking the market by storm, the news that Jackson's estate has appreciated to more than $1bn since his death is perhaps no great surprise. While Jackson's fans always believed that the singer's legacy rivaled Elvis's, now his estate is set to overtake Presley's in terms of value...

The lyrics to 1983's Beat It ($60,000)
The lyrics to 1983's Jackson's 1983 hit Beat It ($60,000)

For now, the responsibility falls to collectors across the globe to ensure that Jackson's legacy remains safeguarded - and a wealth of vital and historic Jackson memorabilia is guaranteed to appear on the market in 2010's second half, and for many years to come.

Weird and wonderful items of Jackson memorabilia currently on the market include a lock of his hair - salvaged from Jackson's notorious accident when his hair caught fire during the filming of a Pepsi drinks commercial, back in 1984

The hair is currently on the market and available to buy, and set to join other famous celebrity hair strands - including those of Elvis Presley and US President Thomas Jefferson's wife - which have appeared at auction for thousands of dollars.

For more information on Michael Jackson's hair, please email or telephone +44 (0) 117 933 9500.


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