The recent death of Michael Jackson brings collecting memorabilia to a new level. His controversial lifestyle in his later years has perhaps dimmed it somewhat, but not much. People are still in a frenzy for his stuff and were even before his death. There was a huge amount of interest and early bidding on The Michael Jackson auction originally scheduled for April 2009. A few days before the auction was to take place, it was canceled when Jackson's lawsuit to stop the auction was successful.
Perhaps it's time to take a step back and don't rush to push the buy button on your computer in the first few weeks. After the initial frenzy has died down, there will still be plenty of stuff around. Meanwhile save the current newspapers issues and magazines in case you decide later to collect them.
- What to Collect?
It's easiest to collect and look for memorabilia when you have a focus. A lot of time your budget will dictate what direction that focus might be. Suggestions of items to collect would be: concert t-shirts; early records and albums; action figures; newspapers/magazine covers; posters; pictures; autographed items; Jackson Five and estate items (when they go on sale).
Exactly how is it authenticated? A Certificate of Authenticity is only worth the paper it's printed on, unless it's backed by a well known company who will stand behind their sales or done by a third party verification service. Anyone can print up a piece of paper, so don't think that it's a genuine item because of a COA. Find out who is doing the certifying.
What is the provenance of the item? Is there a picture of Jackson wearing the (e.g.) jacket in question? What proof do you have that it is the actual (e.g.) jacket or glove for that matter?
Autographs are easily forged and a huge percentage sold online are fakes. Again, make sure it's sold by a legitimate dealer, ask what the return policy is if the autograph proves not to be authentic. Look for autographs that are verified by certification services. To see what an authentic Jackson autograph looks like, one can be found on an upcoming Heritage Auction Galleries Auction - on a signed copy of his Screen Actors Guild agreement.
- Licensed or Fantasy?
Lots of folks will jump on the bandwagon and start selling Michael Jackson stuff, perhaps they might have a t-shirt from an old concert, an embroidered jacket, a sequined glove. The question to ask is if these are authentic licensed items or a fantasy item the seller has made himself. Anyone can take a satin jacket and get the name Michael Jackson embroidered on the back - but it will it be worth anything? Probably not to anyone but the seller who makes a quick buck.
- Limited Editions
These are words that can warm the hearts of collectors or chill us to the bottom of our souls. What is does limited edition exactly mean? Is it limited to e.g. 100 pieces, not bad for a limited production. Or is it limited to a year of production, when a company can produce thousands of an item, as many as they can possibly crank out. Don't let the term Limited Edition be the main reason to purchase something, unless it really means something.
As always, but especially when buying high ticket items, deal with a reputable dealer. It might cost a bit more up front, but if the dealer has been in business for a number of years and/or is well known in their field, they will or SHOULD stand by their sales. Ask to be sure. Find out what the return policy is, can you take an item on approval so it can be verified?