On the third anniversary of Michael Jackson's June 25, 2009 death, the world is still fascinated by any halfway-revealing Jackson artifact that turns up. The truly revealing ones intrigue us most, whether they're in the form of never-released demos or sad, handwritten notes. But we're also not above being curious when seemingly anything he ever verifiably touched turns up on the auction block, be it the red "Thriller" jacket, the headboard of his deathbed, or a surgical mask that contains "a single dark strand of Jackson's hair."
[Related: Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' girlfriend grateful for opportunity]
From the ridiculous to the (we can only hope) sublime, here are the most notable of Jackson artifacts that have made news in the months leading up to the three-year commemoration of his passing:
THE EXHAUSTED NOTE TO LISA MARIE PRESLEY. A handwritten note that Jackson penned to his then-wife was due to be the hottest item on the block at a recent auction before Julien's Auctions removed it from bidding out of a stated desire to maintain a good relationship with Presley. Presumably written some time between 1993-96, the missive established that Jackson's problems with sleeplessness predated his propofol-related death by many, many years. In spirit, it can be summed up as "Let me nap," but the full text read: "Lisa I truly need this rest I haven't slept litterally in 4 days now. I need to be away from phones and Business people. I must take care of my health first Im' crazy for you Love Turd." (That sign-off is one term of celebrity endearment we probably could have gone without knowing.)
Jackson's note to Lisa Marie
THE QUEEN DUETS. Of all the outstanding recorded material that may or may not exist, is there anything more tantalizing than the prospect of unreleased duets between Jackson and Freddie Mercury? Queen guitarist Brian May revealed this spring that the surviving band members have received permission from the Jackson estate to release these previously unknown tracks. "Michael used to come and see us when we were on tour in the States. He and Freddie became close friends, close enough to record a couple of tracks together at Michael's house, tracks which have never seen the light of day," May said. But he didn't want to get anybody's hopes up for a rush-release. "The Michael Jackson estate are happy for us to go ahead with the music. But it's not something that we can rush."
Freddie Mercury, duet partner?
THE MORBID HEADBOARD. Also pulled from a Julien's auction—this time at the behest of the estate—was the headboard of the bed in which Jackson died. (The mattress and other parts of the bed had been confiscated by the police as evidence and were never set to be included in the auction.) But the rest of the contents of Jackson's final home went on sale as scheduled and brought in nearly $1 million. Jackson's name wasn't officially attached to this particular auction, which was called "100 North Carolwood Drive" and featured items that belonged to the owners of Jackson's rented estate. He and his children had left his mark on some of them. here were bedroom chairs "smudged with Jackson's makeup." There was a rooster-shaped kitchen chalkboard that had the inscription "I (heart) Daddy. SMILE, it's for free." And there was one peculiar armoire...
The auction display of Jackson's headboard
JACKSON'S PEP TALK TO THE MAN IN THE MIRROR. Among the items at this last auction was an armoire with a mirror upon which Jackson had scrawled a message to himself. "Train, perfection" were the words on the top line. The next line laid out a simple timeline: "March April full out May," he wrote, presumably to remind himself how rapidly he needed to amp up his energy for the London comeback gigs that were scheduled for right after his death. Below these words was a stick figure. Jackson liked to draw those; a series of stick figures had been drawn into a separate shower bench that was on the auction block. But the one on the mirror oddly had its head bowed down or detached from the body, as if to indicate just how weary Jackson felt.
Jackson's armoire... and message to himself
THE BAD OUTTAKES. The 25th anniversary of the Bad album is being commemorated with deluxe editions this September, including a full disc's worth of demos and outtakes from the original sessions. One track, "Don't Be Messin' Around," has already been released as a WalMart exclusive (as the "B-side" to a re-release of the "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" single). It's gotten a generally positive response from fans... maybe because, unlike the much-derided album of outtakes that Sony put out a couple of years ago, there have been no efforts to "finish" the obviously rough tracks. Everything on the bonus disc will purportedly be left in the form in which Jackson abandoned it, even if that includes ad-libs and instructions to the musicians. "One of the main intentions is to show that these are works in progress," said engineer Matt Forger. "To pull the curtain back. To actually see Michael in his natural work environment, how he directs, his sense of humor, his focus."