Jacko portrait to hit eBay

2010-04-07 18:05

Los Angeles - A portrait of Michael Jackson, reportedly the only one for which the King of Pop ever posed, is going up for auction online.

The auction of the 127cm x 102cm painting by Australian artist Brett-Livingstone Strong will launch on Wednesday evening, the portrait's owner said. The colourful portrait, titled The Book, and reportedly the only painting for which the King of Pop ever posed, depicts Jackson in a red velvet jacket, clutching a journal at his Neverland Ranch.

"I've had it an awful long time," said toy inventor Marty Abrams, who acquired the painting with partner John Gentilly in 1992 from Japanese businessman Hiromichi Saeki as payment on a debt owed to them.

"With the positive response to his music and the movie about him after his death, we thought it was a good time to sell it and for the world to see it."

For over 17 years, Abrams kept the painting in storage in a New Jersey warehouse. It was briefly on display at the Dancy-Power Automotive showroom in Harlem after Jackson's death in June. The fantastical painting, which also features the fairy character Tinkerbell hovering in the background, is hanging inside Abrams' home in Kings Point, New York.

The painting was originally sold to Saeki for $2.1m in 1990. Abrams said the painting was appraised by Belgo Fine Art Appraisal and Restoration at $5.3m in 2000, but he believes it is worth more now.

Abrams hopes it will fetch over $3m in the auction, which is scheduled to end on April 17. The minimum starting bid will be $2.75m.

"Frankly, I thought instead of trying to call out to other people, let's bring the people that are really interested to us," said auction organiser Marc Samson.

"The idea of doing it on eBay in an auction format seemed to make the most sense. When Marty's son, Ken, came to me with the painting, it hit me across the face. This is the way to get it out there."