Never Say Neverland Again

As previously mentioned, I visited the auction-house exhibition of Michael Jackson’s possessions from Neverland last week. The auction itself had already been cancelled by Jackson at the last minute. Pick your theory as to why: (1) He got a last-minute cash infusion (2) He never intended to actually sell his stuff, but wanted to (a) get the money from people paying $20/head to see his flotsam and jetsam (b) drum up interest for a Michael Jackson museum somewhere.

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There weren’t many people there–maybe a dozen or so on a late Friday morning, although it got a bit busier as the day went on. As far as I could tell, nobody was a hyperventilating Jackson fanatic; everyone was just coming for the freak-show value. I’d say we all got our money’s worth.

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Jackson bought lots and lots of crap. It’s been documented that he drops staggering sums in places like casino gift shops, and that’s what you see here: overpriced shiny tchotchkes. If Jackson wanted, he could have afforded, say, original Norman Rockwell paintings, but instead, he bought prints of second-rate Rockwell imitators. I’ve seen stores with a giant electric Swiss Army Knife in the window, but it never occurred to me that it might be possible to bring it home.

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Oh, and there’s the absolutely insane original art featuring Jackson.

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In the entrance hall, there were lots of platinum records and other mementoes of his performing career. A video screen played a Jackson concert on a loop: I watched “Beat It,” where the female guitarist (some web research suggests her name is Jennifer Batten) was wearing glowing antlers that reached a yard above her head. And the director kept cutting in footage of fainting fans being dragged out of the crowd, to demonstrate the primal power of Jackson grabbing his crotch live.

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Further back, there were lots of furniture and other home furnishings, including a solid-gold Scrabble set, toy British soldiers, tricycles, saddles, and silverware. It did not appear to be a complete display of Jackson’s Neverland possessions–for example, I assume he owned a television set and kitchen equipment, but that wasn’t included here.

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Another room was devoted to dozens of videogames and pinball machines, spanning the last three decades.

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And yet another had all the Disney arcana, including a custom-made vitrine that had a scene from Pinocchio, which included a small doll of Jackson in his “Smooth Criminal” oufit; when Pinocchio comes to life, the Jackson doll does a little dance.

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One of the stranger motifs was that in every room, there were lifesize mannequins of all descriptions, some cartoony, some realistic: chefs, security guards, old ladies, Darth Vader, Superman, Jackson himself. The realization gradually sank in that these were the closest thing Jackson had to friends.

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Gradually, the goggling-at-the-bad taste part of my brain got overwhelmed and I just felt sad about the huge empty cavity in Jackson’s soul (and the terrible things that happened when he tried to compensate by bringing small children to Neverland). If he had just tried to fill it that void with overpriced junk, that would have been okay–even if he had worse taste than Elvis Presley. Oh, there was also a life-size bust of Elvis Presley. A slightly mangled version of the famous Sam Phillips quotation was written on his shoulder in magic marker.

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The last thing I noticed, and possibly the creepiest, was an MJ jacket adorned with the toy license plates you give to children.

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(If you want more pictures, you can make requests in the comments here, or check out BoingBoing for a link to Paul Sheer’s photos of the same exhibition.)

posted 27 April 2009 in Photos, Tasty Bits and tagged , , , . 2 comments

2 Comments on Never Say Neverland Again

  1. Chris M. Says:

    We’re out of his life. And I don’t know whether to laugh, or cry.

  2. Miss Sue Says:

    Guess he showed us all didn’t he :)-

    Sometimes we judge out of ignorance, don’t we………he was always in control even when it looked like he wasn’t

    He’s probably sitting there going ‘Fools, silly little minded fools’.

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