Michael Jackson told a Beverly Hills auction house to beat it, and has canceled an auction of Jackobilia.
"Both parties, Julien's Auctions and Michael Jackson, agree to halt the auction," Martin J. Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions, told ABC News. "All items will remain intact as one collection and will be returned to Michael Jackson."
"Both sides agree to make a generous donation to Music Cares, the charity founded by the Recording Academy," added Nolan.
Prior to the Tuesday evening legal agreement, the auction was scheduled to run April 21 until April 25 and expected to generate upwards of $30 million from the 1,390 items on sale. To placate Jackson's many fans, the collection will still be open to public viewing until April 25 for a charge of $20 per head.
"This is the latest episode in the endlessly fascinating, sometimes grossly bizarre career of Michael Jackson," said Michael Levine, who was in charge of public relations for Jackson, 50, during his 1993 child molestation trial.
It's also typical behavior for Jackson, who is notoriously fickle and prone to changing his mind. In recent years, the "king of pop" has bailed out on a comeback tour with his brothers who made up The Jackson Five and an album for which Sheikh Abdulla of Bahrain paid $7 million but never received. Abdulla sued and the pair settled out of court.
Jackson originally hired Julien's Auctions to sell over 2,000 items from his Neverland Ranch after he was forced to sell it or face foreclosure. Then, in March, he slapped Julien's with a lawsuit to halt the sale, saying he had never authorized it. A hearing on a preliminary injunction had been scheduled today before Tuesday's night announcement saying the auction would be cancelled.
Opening day at the auction site was certainly a feast for the senses. Two dozen gold buggies, limos and miniature race cars lined the walk to the garden where more than 50 statues, many of children playing, lined a garden area. Walking up the stairs to the main show room, visitors were greeted by a red carpet, moody lighting and Jackson's beats blaring out of the loud speakers.
Peter Pan and NeverlandImmediately inside the entrance was a mock-up of Jackson arriving at a premiere complete with fake camera flashes and his custom-made Rolls Royce stretch limousine. The room at the back was devoted to arcade games and bordered a collection of cartoon heroes, most notably Mickey Mouse and Peter Pan. To the left of the entrance, mixed in with all the album awards was an inordinate amount of personal portraits, some complete with crowns.
"When working with him there was a real sense he [Jackson] was extremely materially engaged," Levine said. "However, the '90s were very materialistic and differed from the post-financial crisis world of today so conclusions can't be drawn just from this."
Many of the items were expected to smash through their estimated guide prices. Nolan predicted the gates to the Neverland Ranch would sell for upwards of $100,000, not the $30,000 listed, while he also thought that the iconic white Swarovski-encrusted glove would fetch 15 times its guide listing of $10,000. A 12-foot statue of a bound Indian designed by Texan Glenna Goodacre was expected to fetch up to $200,000.
While there are sure to be many disappointed memorabilia hunters, some Michael Jackson fans will be pleased to now learn that one of the world's great memorabilia collectors will get to keep his personal collection.
"We came to this auction for our love of Michael," said Laura Uselton, a 22-year-old with a tattoo of Jackson on her back.
"He's the number one entertainer the world has ever seen and having to sell all of his belongings makes me sad," said Gregory Son, a friend of Uselton's who bore a striking resemblance to the King of Pop.
Further details on what will become of the collection after the exhibition ends on April 25 are expected to be released later in the week.
It's not clear how cancelling the auction will affect Jackson's bottom line, since it widely believed that he is financially strapped. He recently sold out a series of comeback concerts in London scheduled for this summer.