The hat that Michael Jackson wore during his first moowalk auctioned in Paris and presented at the Hotel Drouot

Worn by Michael Jackson in 1983, the hat which was recovered by a spectator during a concert will be presented at auction in Paris this Tuesday, September 26. It is estimated between 60,000 and 100,000 euros.

Just before performing his first moonwalk – his signature dance move – Michael Jackson tosses his hat to the side of the stage. It was March 25, 1983 during the 25th anniversary of the famous Motown label, when the singer performed his song Billie Jean. The sequence was subsequently broadcast on May 16, 1983 by the American channel NBC. 40 years later, this headgear is about to be sold at auction in Paris.

The hat, a Fedora, is estimated between 60,000 and 100,000 euros. He will be the attraction of a sale of some 200 rock objects at the Hôtel Drouot, the main Parisian auction house, on September 26.

A few years in the hands of a spectator

This event is organized by the Artpèges gallery and the Lemon Auction auction house which, last year, caused a sensation with Noel Gallagher’s guitar, smashed on the evening of Oasis’ separation, sold for 385,500 euros with costs.

“It was a certain Adam Kelly – whose badge we have for the show on March 25, 1983 – who collected this hat that day, thinking that the singer’s staff would come and collect it, but no”exhibits to AFP Arthur Perault, general director and co-founder of Artpèges.

“Adam Kelly kept it for several years before passing it on to an American collector, this hat then reappeared in a European collection and is now here in our hands”he continues.

Accusations that slow down the market

“This is the very first Fedora worn by the “King of Pop” during a performance”, underlines Arthur Perault. But the estimate of the hat is nevertheless lower than another piece on sale, a guitar of the bluesman T-Bone Walker (1910-1975), major influence of BB King, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton again. This six-string, produced in only 22 copies in 1949, is valued between 100,000 and 150,000 euros.

“The vintage guitar market is high and the market for Michael Jackson has been dampened due to several factors, such as the sale of fakes and the accusations against him”, deciphers the co-founder of Artpèges. Documentaries, contested by his heirs, regularly revive accusations of child abuse, denied during his lifetime by the singer who was never convicted for such acts.

Soaring prices

Recently, a series of auctions of thousands of items that belonged to Freddie Mercury reached 46.5 million euros, a record for a collection of this kind, according to the auction house Sotheby’s. Including the piano on which the artist composed almost everything from Bohemian Rhapsody, gone for 2 million euros. Bidders came from 76 countries in Europe, North America and Latin America and buyers from 50 countries.

For this Michael Jackson Fedora, Arthur Perault is “very optimistic” and expects a “international clientele” : “Even if we must always remain cautious, we are in a movement which only goes upwards for rock memorabilia”, that is, for memories. “It’s a maturing market, certain objects are compared to Picassos, like the Höfner (bass died 54 years ago) by Paul McCartney”he unfolds.

More unusual, there will also be a section of the wall of the Bus Palladium, a Parisian club (opened in 1965, closed in 2022), signed among others by Carl Barât, Pete Doherty (The Libertines), Jean-Benoît Dunckel (Air), The Dandy Warhols, Beth Ditto (Gossip), estimated between 5,000 and 8,000 euros. “Very personally, I hope that this wall will remain in France, it is a trace of our heritage, for all lovers of music and rock”concludes Arthur Perault.

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