Jackson ‘Thriller’ jacket sells for $1.8 million
LOS ANGELES, California – The red and black leather jacket worn by Michael Jackson in his “Thriller” video went under the hammer for $1.8 million on Sunday, a day after the second anniversary of the pop icon’s death.
The jacket, which fetched several times its estimate of between $200,000 and $400,000, has “Love Michael Jackson” written on the sleeve, and a dedication in the lining to his long-time costume designers, to whom he gave it.
The buyer was identified as Milton Verret, a commodities trader from Austin Texas, who plans to have the jacket tour and be displayed at children’s hospitals around the globe to raise money for their children’s charities.
The auctioneer described the jacket as “among the most recognizable and famous garments of the 20th century,” saying it sparked a 1980s fashion craze when it was copied and sold to adoring Jackson fans worldwide.
“The black and red style of the jacket became so identifiable with Jackson’s groundbreaking (video) that he continued to use jackets of the same design when performing the song ‘Thriller’ for the duration of his career,” it said.
The jacket is one of two which Jackson used during the ghoulishly iconic video, the other being on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
In the 14-minute video from 1983, a graveyard full of zombies come to life, and join Jackson in a morbidly spectacular dance routine which has become an icon of popular culture.
Jackson gave the jacket to his longtime costume designers Dennis Tompkins and Michael Bush, asking them to use it as a reference for subsequent concert versions of the “Thriller” jacket he would use during his career.
When he first brought it to them, the pair reportedly asked if he could really dance freely in the jacket, to which Jackson incredulously replied, “Have you seen the video for ‘Thriller’?”
“Clearly, Jackson performed some of the most iconic choreography of our time in that video, without difficulty, while wearing the jacket,” said the auctioneer.
Part of the proceeds from the sale will go to the Shambala Preserve in California, where Jackson’s two Bengal tigers, Thriller and Sabu, have been living since 2006 when Jackson left the Neverland Ranch, it said.
On Saturday, fans paid their respects on the second anniversary of Jackson’s death at the age of 50. He died from an overdose of the sedative propofol on June 25, 2009, while preparing for a comeback series of concerts in London.
His personal doctor, Conrad Murray, is due to go on trial for alleged manslaughter in Los Angeles in September.