June 7th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
Millions know the song, have seen the video and even memorized the moves of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and now the highest bidder can own the jacket Jackson wore in what’s touted as “the most famous music video of all time.”
Beverly Hills auction house Julien’s Auctions calls the red and black calf leather jacket with winged shoulders one of the most recognizable and famous garments of the 20th century, an item that “sparked a 1980s fashion craze like none other.”
“It is truly the most iconic piece of pop culture history,” Darren Julien, president of Julien’s Auctions, tells CNN. “You see the jacket and you know what it [is] immediately and who it belonged to.”
The estimated price is $200,000-$400,000, but that’s what Julien refers to as a “conservative estimate.” He says people have expressed interest in purchasing the jacket for even more.
“Michael Jackson has an unbelievable fan base,” says Julien, adding that he expects bids from around the globe.
The jacket was given to Dennis Tompkins and Michael Bush, the late King of Pop's longtime costume designers, to use as reference for subsequent concert performances of the song. It even includes an inscription to them on the jacket’s inside lining, and the sleeve is signed, “Love Michael Jackson.”
Part of the proceeds from the jacket’s sale will go to support The Shambala Preserve, a California wildlife sanctuary for more than 60 exotic felines like lions and leopards, including a Bengal tiger named “Thriller.” It’s no coincidence, because Jackson once owned and named “Thriller.” She’s one of two of the pop star’s tigers that ended up at Shambala in 2006 when the singer moved from his Neverland Ranch.
Julien’s Auctions has sold hundreds of items tied to Jackson over the years, including the glittery glove he wore when he unveiled his signature “moonwalk” during the Motown 25 television special. The auction house sold that glove five months after Jackson’s death to a casino in Macau, China, for $350,000. At the time, Julien touted the glove as “the Holy Grail of Michael Jackson memorabilia." He told an interviewer then that only one item would be a bigger get—Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket– but Julien says he had no idea where it was or who might have it.
Now the jacket is set for auction the weekend of June 25, which coincides with the second anniversary of Jackson’s death.
The garment is among 600 items being offered at the Music Icons Auction, which includes other things worn by Jackson like a fedora and even the wig he donned at a press conference announcing his “This Is It” tour three months before his death.
Other offerings include an Elvis Presley original “TCB” necklace, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” denim jacket, Ringo Starr’s wool cape from “Help” and a 25-year-old custom Jaguar that belonged to Frank Sinatra. There are even items tied to Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Madonna and Lady Gaga.
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