Once again I did a trip from Auckland to Julien’s Auction’s, this time to Beverly Hills at their new premises and as a spur of the moment decision, with only five days to make arrangements in order to get there. I had already registered to bid in the Auction on the 26th of June, but due to some good fortune with a change of circumstances, instead I was arranging a trip away faster than I had ever organized a journey previously in my life.
The journey to Julien’s in Los Angeles turned out to be from one of my worst nightmares coming into fruition. When I arrived at Auckland airport on the 22nd of June to catch my Qantas flight, I was informed that due to the Chile volcanic ash situation, no flights were leaving for that day, and I would have to re-book. Being a woman of persistence and determination, I demanded they find a way of getting me there. After much effort, I was transferred to a different airline going to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. The trip took me 31.5 hours by the time I reached my hotel in Beverly Hills.
I had sent an email to Martin Nolan (director of Julien’s) informing him of my dilemma and that I was sitting in Hong Kong airport, instead of being at the V.I.P party to which I had been invited. Martin has a great sense of humour and replied that as long as I arrive in L.A. in time to catch my flight back to Auckland on the 27the of June I was not to worry.
After some sleep on my arrival in Beverly Hills, next day I went down to Julien’s gallery to see all of Michael’s possessions, awards and autographed items. I was elated to see all the wonderful things in the display cabinets and spent the rest of the day studying all these amazing items until they closed the doors on me at 5.00p.m. Unfortunately I was not yet to see the legendary ‘Thriller’ Jacket, nor the ‘Billie Jean’ shirt etc: These had been taken by Martin Nolan and Darren Julien to New York, where they would display them in a TV interview on channel 4’s “Good Morning America” show. I watched this interview on the TV in my room.
Late on Friday the 24th of June, Darren and Martin arrived back from New York with the missing items. Firstly I watched the ‘Thriller’ Jacket being re-instated in its glass cabinet. When I saw this, many thoughts went through my mind about Michael and how I felt the first time ever I saw ‘Thriller’ on TV in New Zealand. It kind of sent shudders down my spine. I could almost see him in this garment as though he were actually in front of me. I took film and many photos as the jacket revolved around inside the cabinet. To be standing in front of the most famous piece of music memorabilia on the planet of Michael’s, was an amazing experience and I felt truly blessed to be able to see it while at the same time I could not cope with or grasp the realization that it was right in front of me. Never in a million years had I dreamed that I would be standing in front of Michael’s iconic ‘Thriller’ Jacket.
My next big delight was to have Martin inform me that he had just put the ‘Billie Jean’ rhinestone shirt back on the mannequin and when I was told this, I literally ran to see it. As I approached this amazing creation, I felt prickles all over me and tears rush to my eyes. This piece of clothing was the crème de la crème of brilliance and dazzle, better than any other of Michael’s clothing I had seen to date. There it was in front of me sparkling in all it’s glory and with my emotions overwhelming me, (because with my vivid imagination I could see Michael right there inside of it) I clambered up on to the stage beside it and put my hand on the shoulder of the shirt,(much to Martin’s disgust…lol!). I had to touch it and a stampeding herd of cattle wouldn’t have stopped me. I quickly got photos taken before Martin rushed me outside and put me in the garbage disposal or some other gruesome place out of harm’s way. We have to laugh about this don’t we Martin, though I did totally understand that If I were seen touching it, then others would want to do the same.
For me the ‘Billie Jean’ shirt was so personal, as it was the item I saw Michael wearing on ‘Motown 25’ in 1983 in which he introduced the “Moonwalk” to the world. It was at that point in time that I changed from being a Michael Jackson fan, to becoming a “Michael Jackson Fanatic.” I would have given anything possible to come back to Auckland with this amazing item, but unfortunately I couldn’t afford to buy it. It is highly unlikely I will ever see this shirt again, but never will I forget the exhilaration, the excitement and the joy I had in viewing this beautiful historical piece of history right before my very own eyes, thanks to Julien’s.
Though I could not afford to purchase the magnificent ‘Billie Jean’ shirt, I was determined to come home with something Michael had worn. I already had my eye on a couple of items from the days before. There were so many amazing things to see of Michael’s from the time he was a child star, until recent years. If I could have brought everything on display back to Auckland with me, I would have indeed been a happy girl.
Julien’s had some exquisite items to look at and in amongst these, were items such as the pillow case he had written on from a German hotel and thrown out the window to fans, one of his famous black rhinestone gloves, and the wig which he wore when announcing his coming tour ‘This Is It’ in London during March 2009. I did love Michael’s drawings, his ‘Bad’ tour black shirt and most definitely his shirt from ‘Scream’ which was created from a most unusual fabric, to mention just a few objects that were all part of the 200 or more items on display.
On this very same afternoon, I was fortunate enough to meet the beautiful Tatiana Yvonne, who spoke with me sharing some of her thoughts and dilemma’s and she signed a piece of paper and a Julien’s catalogue for me. It was more than delightful to meet this wonderful woman, and she looks as beautiful now as she did when she made the video ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ with Michael so many years ago.
On Michael’s Anniversary I spent the day and evening with a special friend who took me to an event being held at Michael’s childhood school in Hollywood. This is the Gardner Elementry School where the “Michael Jackson” Auditorium is. At one stage, you may all be aware that his name was covered up on the front of the building and due to persistence of loyal fans, the name has once again been revealed for all to see.
I was surprised to find Tatiana also present at this event, and we shared some fun times throughout the day. I purchased her recent book which she also autographed for me. I found her to be so humble and delightful to talk with.
The event had speakers such as William Wagener, Larry Nimmer, Gloria Berlin, (who sold Michael, Neverland ranch) and the biggest surprise for me was to see Tom Mesereau make his entrance to the event. Tom gave a wonderful speech, then later I was fortunate to sit and talk with him about what he was doing for Michael. I was elated to meet Tom, and once again could not believe my luck in meeting such well known celebrities. The performances put on by my friend were amazing, and there were other wonderful acts at the event also. It was a day I will never forget and was truly happy to have been once again in another venue that Michael had been present in.
Later we went to a fan dinner at Encino, and were entertained there by another tribute artist. It was great meeting new fans and old friends and sharing a meal together with them. To celebrate and remember Michael’s anniversary with such wonderful people on this sad day helped me get through it. I never arrived back to my hotel till 2.15a.m. and finally was resting in my bed by 2.45a.m. I knew I had to get up by 7.00a.m. for the awaited day on the 26th of June of the Auction of Michael’s items.
When I arrived at Darren’s and Martin’s gallery by 9.00a.m, there was already a hive of activity. You could feel the excitement mounting amongst the many people already present in attendance for the commencement of the auction at 10.00a.m.
Martin seated me in the front row at the left end and I had noticed already camera crews from around the world filming what would be the biggest historical event to date of the coming sale of Michael’s ‘Thriller’ Jacket. I had asked Martin if he had an auction paddle containing Michael’s Number 7. He found one that had the Numbers 272 and I decided this was more than perfect, as I intended to have two bids and to leave with two items of Michael’s. This paddle turned out to be indeed a lucky one for me.
The auction commenced with items from the Jackson 5 era and then eventually got to the first item I wanted to bid on. This item was Michael’s very own personal black and white silk robe from the ‘Victory’ tour in 1984. Bidding commenced and my nerves were totally rattled. Early during initial bidding, I actually thought I had already won this beautiful robe, and leapt out of my chair with uncontrollable excitement to hug and caress it on the mannequin not far behind where I sat. When the misunderstanding was explained to me, I returned to my seat and continued bidding. When I finally won this amazing piece of Michael’s, I once again rushed from my chair, and hugged it knowing it was truly mine. People in the gallery cheered and clapped at my responses, and when I returned to my seat, suddenly many large cameras were right in front of my face asking me questions that I could only vaguely answer for my uncontrollable nervous shaking. This entire spectacle of my reactions to winning the robe can be seen on Julien’s website videos as act one of the auction and on Youtube in Julien’s Auctions and my now in my own Youtube channel also.
The auction continued on, until it was time for the number one item to go under the hammer. We were all given the opportunity to bid $100 dollars on the ‘Thriller’ Jacket, after which the official bidding started at $300,000. The entire sale of this jacket was both exciting and tense, as I watched Milton Verrett bidding nervously in his efforts to make this iconic piece of clothing his. When the hammer finally went down at 1.8 Million dollars, he was rushed by every camera in the house, and I made my way through the stampede to get my own video and photos of this amazing moment in history for Milton and for my friends Darren and Martin who just achieved their highest record for any item of Michael’s to date. I felt thrilled to bits for them both and for Milton who was determined to make the jacket his.
Later during the auction, I won Michael’s personal ‘Dangerous’ tour robe and was so excited that I got a security guard to carry the mannequin with this robe on through the building to place it beside the current one with my ‘Victory’ tour robe. I was elated to have both my robes side by side for everyone to see, until later in the day when they would be carefully wrapped to come home to Auckland with me.
I am truly grateful for the wonderful opportunity’s that I’ve had to date in purchasing from Darren and Martin, MJ memorabilia including Michael’s bandolier from the ‘Bad’ tour era and Michael’s belt that he wore at his 45th birthday party that I attended and which he also wore when receiving the key to Las Vegas a few weeks later. I now have four very personal items of Michael’s thanks to the opportunity of purchasing these at Julien’s Auctions and look forward to acquiring further items from them in the not to distant future.
My luck has changed considerably since legally changing my name to incorporate and combine mine with Michael’s early last year. In the recent release Michael sings with Barry Gibb the truly beautiful song they created together, ‘All In Your Name’ and I absolutely believe that my good fortune is due to it being ‘All In My Name.’
Michael Jackson you are absolutely ‘Another Part Of Me.’
Debbie MichaelJoe Jackson – Auckland, New Zealand.