Until now, Michael’s art collection was shrouded in mystery. It was said to be stuck in a legal dispute over possession. Then there was speculation that buyers such as Cirque du Soleil’s Guy Laliberté were interested. It’s been valued at the staggering sum of nine hundred million dollars.
One crucial fact: Michael’s art collection isn’t art by other people – it’s mainly drawings and paintings that he created himself.
Yesterday, LA Weekly was the first to visit the top-secret Santa Monica Airport hangar, that Michael used as his studio and art storehouse. The collection is currently owned by Brett-Livingstone Strong, the Australian monument builder and Michael’s art mentor throughout the years, in conjunction with the Jackson estate.
Though the ownership of the entire art collection is being disputed, Strong claims that he is working with everybody – the family, the estate, as well as others – to exhibit and publish as much of Michael’s work as possible.
According to Strong, he and Michael formed an incorporated business partnership in 1989, known as the Jackson-Strong alliance. This gave each partner a fifty-percent stake in the other’s art. In 2008, Strong says, Michael requested that his attorney sign the rights to his portion of the art over to Strong. Now, Strong is beginning to reveal more and more of the art as he goes ahead with Michael’s dream of organizing a museum exhibit.
Strong has already donated several pieces of Michael’s art to the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, as we reported to you last week.
Strong gave a tour of the hangar, beginning with the Michael Jackson monument that Strong and Michael co-designed several years ago. Strong explains, “He wanted his fans to be able to get married at a monument that would have all of his music [in an archive, and playing on speakers], to inspire some of his fans.”
The current design is still in the works, but it’s conceived as an interactive monument – fans who buy a print by Michael will receive a card in the mail. They can scan this card at the monument, and then have a computer organize a personal greeting for them, or allow them to book it for weddings. Michael initially thought it would be perfect for Las Vegas, but Strong says that Los Angeles might have the honor of hosting it – apparently, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, recently paid a visit and made a few oblique promises.