Just before performing his famous moonwalk dance for the first time, Michael Jackson tossed his hat to the side of the stage. Four decades later, it’s up for auction in Paris.
The sale at the Hotel Drouot in Paris takes place on September 26. The black fedora is expected to fetch between €60,000 and €100,000.
Though it is the star among some 200 items of rock memorabilia, organiser Arthur Perault of the Artpeges gallery admitted that valuations for Jackson items had fallen lately due to “the sale of fakes and the accusations against him”.
Jackson has long been accused of child abuse, which his heirs still contest and which the singer denied up to his death in 2009 at the age of 50.
The King of Pop whipped off the hat while breaking into his hit Billie Jean during a televised Motown concert in 1983, at the height of his fame.
Moments later, Jackson showed off what would become his trademark move – the moonwalk – a seemingly effortless backwards glide while appearing to walk forwards.
A man named Adam Kelly picked up Jackson’s hat, “thinking the singer’s staff would come to collect it but they didn’t”, said Perault.
He held on to it for several years but it has since passed through a couple of private collectors on its way to Paris.
Also being auctioned are a guitar owned by the legendary bluesman T-Bone Walker that could fetch up to 150,000 euros; a suit worn by Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore; and one of Madonna’s gold records.
A chunk of wall from the Bus Palladium, a Paris venue that shut down last year, signed by numerous rock stars including members of The Libertines, Air and The Dandy Warhols, is valued at between €5,000 and €8,000.
“Personally, I hope this wall stays in France. It is part of our heritage for all lovers of music and rock,” said Perault.
Music memorabilia has become big business.
Co-organisers Lemon Auction made a splash last year with the sale of a guitar smashed by Noel Gallagher on the night Oasis split up in Paris following a fight with his brother Liam. The instrument went for 385,500 euros.
This month, a series of auctions for items belonging to Freddie Mercury – including the piano on which he composed Bohemian Rhapsody – have made a total of 46.5 million euros at Sotheby’s, attracting bidders from 76 countries.