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Ever wondered how you could get your hands on Janet Jackson’s signature black jacket-hat-and-gloves ensemble from the “Rhythm Nation” tour? Or her outfits from the “That’s the Way Love Goes” and “Alright” videos? Her gold and platinum records? Her wedding dress? Her 1956 Chevy pickup truck? Her high school Spanish homework?
If so, you’re in luck, as all of the above will be among the thousand-plus Jackson artifacts set to be auctioned off on May 14-16 by Julien’s Auctions. Dubbed “Iconic Treasures From the Legendary Life and Career of Janet Jackson,” the sale will take place around Jackson’s 55th birthday, with proceeds going to child-advocacy charity Compassion International. Additionally, the auction books themselves will be sold in a hardcover boxed set, also for charity, which comes with a video produced by Jackson herself in which she wears a number of the costumes and items for sale.
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Per Julien’s founder and president/CEO Darren Julien, the auction house had been discussing the possibility with Jackson for the past two years. “I think one of the things that helped her expedite the auction process was the pandemic,” he says. “Because she was gonna be locked down, and she just started realizing she has all these things in storage, she never gets to enjoy them, and she wanted to do something good with the proceeds to benefit a charity she cares about… I think it’s been very cathartic for her.”
The lots for sale encompass Jackson’s entire life and career, from her childhood toys and schoolwork to relics from her early career, gifts from her brothers, costumes and props from all her major tours and videos, and paraphernalia from her more recent Las Vegas residency. (Julien predicts that her “Rhythm Nation”-era gear, her outfit from the “Scream” video, and her oft-worn hoop earrings with a metal key will be among the hotter pieces on the block.) Multiple items come with handwritten notes that Jackson wrote while putting together the collection, explaining the significance of the piece, which will come along with the items when they are sold.
Julien’s has organized celebrity memorabilia auctions for the likes of Barbra Streisand, U2, Lady Gaga and others over the years, and was responsible for record-breaking auction sales like Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress and Kurt Cobain’s “MTV Unplugged” guitar. Comparatively, Julien says the Jackson auction is “really one of the biggest” the house has put together.
“Some of the other celebrities we’ve worked with, they’ve wanted to put their feet in the water and test it out a little bit,” he says. “A lot of the celebrities we’ve worked with want to do a second auction and would say, ‘maybe in another five or ten years, I’ll do another one.’ We did two auctions for Barbra Streisand, for example. But Janet doesn’t want to do another auction. This is it. Janet’s going all-in.”
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