The red and black leather jacket that Michael Jackson wore while dancing with the undead in the groundbreaking video for “Thriller” was sold for $1.8 million at auction on Sunday. Texas businessman and avid collector Milton Verret plans to display his latest acquisition at an Austin children’s hospital before sending it on tour to raise more money for children’s charities.
Jackson’s jacket, one of two that were worn in the music video, went for a substantial amount, but it’s only a fraction of some recent auction sales. Just last week, the flowing white dress that Marilyn Monroe wore during the subway-grate scene in The Seven Year Itch, was sold for a record $5.6 million. The famous outfit belonged to actress Debbie Reynolds, whose collection also included Audrey Hepburn’s My Fair Lady dress that pulled in $4.5 million at the same auction.
These types of purchases, like the $3 million some guy paid for Mark McGwire’s then-record-breaking 70th home run ball in 1999, always make me think of Brewster’s Millions, the 1985 movie where Richard Pryor has to waste $30 million in 30 days in order to inherit $300 million. I’m glad Verret intends to share Jackson’s jacket with the rest of the world — and for a good cause — because otherwise, what becomes of these items? Are they buried in some climate-controlled vault, only to be worn once a year at some elite Stone Cutter’s Halloween party? For shame. If that’s the case, I think their owners should accept bids from average folks who can rent these treasures for a day. I’d bid $125 for the right to wear the “Thriller” jacket to my high-school reunion. I’d pony up $100 to use Mark McGwire’s steroid baseball in my kid’s Little League game. Oooo, for $225, I’ll pitch the ball while wearing the jacket!
What piece of high-priced memorabilia would you want to rent for a day?