Nearly four decades after Michael Jackson electrified the world with his iconic moonwalk dance move, a piece of pop music history is hitting the auction block in Paris. The black fedora worn by the King of Pop during that memorable performance is set to be auctioned at the Hotel Drouot in Paris on September 26, and it’s expected to fetch a substantial sum, with estimates ranging from 60,000 to 100,000 euros (approximately $64,000 to $107,000).
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This legendary hat, though a standout among the 200 rock memorabilia items being offered, faces a unique challenge in the auction world today. Arthur Perault, the organizer from the Artpeges gallery, acknowledges that valuations for Michael Jackson’s belongings have seen a decline due to concerns over fake items and the ongoing controversy surrounding the artist. The accusations of child abuse, which Jackson vehemently denied up until his passing in 2009 at the age of 50, have cast a shadow over the value of his collectibles.
The historic moment when Jackson removed the hat and broke into his hit song “Billie Jean” during a televised Motown concert in 1983 marked the pinnacle of his fame. Just moments later, he unveiled what would become his signature dance move, the moonwalk, a mesmerizing backward glide while appearing to move forward.
The journey of this iconic fedora from that historic night to the auction in Paris is quite remarkable. Initially picked up by a man named Adam Kelly, who thought Jackson’s staff would retrieve it, the hat passed through several private collectors over the years before reaching its current destination.
In addition to Jackson’s fedora, the auction will feature other remarkable items from the music world. These include a guitar owned by the legendary bluesman T-Bone Walker, which is expected to fetch up to 150,000 euros, a suit worn by Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, and one of Madonna’s gold records.
Another intriguing piece up for auction is a section of the wall from the now-closed Bus Palladium in Paris, adorned with the signatures of various rock stars, including members of The Libertines, Air, and The Dandy Warhols. This unique rock relic carries an estimated value ranging from 5,000 to 8,000 euros.
Arthur Perault, the organizer, expressed his personal sentiment regarding the wall, hoping it remains in France as a cherished part of the country’s musical heritage, beloved by music enthusiasts and rock aficionados alike.
The world of music memorabilia auctions has seen remarkable growth in recent times. Co-organizers Lemon Auction garnered significant attention last year when they auctioned off a guitar smashed by Noel Gallagher on the night Oasis disbanded in Paris following a heated altercation with his brother Liam. This instrument fetched an impressive 385,500 euros.
Furthermore, this month has witnessed a series of auctions featuring items associated with Freddie Mercury, including the very piano on which he composed the iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” These auctions, conducted by Sotheby’s, have collectively generated an astonishing 46.5 million euros in sales, drawing bidders from a staggering 76 countries.
In conclusion, as the iconic fedora worn by Michael Jackson during his historic moonwalk performance prepares to change hands in Paris, it serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring influence and appeal of pop culture icons, despite the controversies that sometimes surround them. This auction also underscores the ever-growing market for music memorabilia, where artifacts from legendary musicians continue to captivate collectors and fans worldwide.