On anniversary of his death, Michael Jackson memorabilia still a top seller despite controversies

Iconic Auctions founder Jeff Woolf reflects on collecting, selling Jackson items

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Arguably the biggest star of the 1980s, Michael Jackson has a very complicated legacy. (Credit: Getty Images)

Editor's Note: Jeff Woolf is the founder of Iconic Auctions. Over the years, his auction house has sold several items of Michael Jackson memorabilia, including eight signed "Thriller" albums. From 1991-2001, Woolf was an autograph collector in Los Angeles and frequently got items signed by Jackson. On the 15th anniversary of Jackson's death, Woolf reflects on the state of the singer's collectible market.

When Michael Jackson died 15 years ago, his memorabilia market absolutely exploded. Signed photos, which were selling the day before for $100, suddenly jumped up to $1,000. Albums that were selling for $500, began selling for $2,000 or more.

The market stayed like that for six months, and then there was a bit of a regression. But in 2011, a steady incline began, and the market is still moving up.

Jackson is a very complicated figure, but he is the King of Pop and one of the great cultural icons of our era. Despite allegations of sexual abuse, Jackson was never convicted in any court — although a California appeals court allowed a lawsuit against Jackson's estate to move forward in August 2023.

The market didn't tank when the documentary "Leaving Neverland" came out, and the fact the market is what it is today is remarkable given how many Jackson signed items exist in the marketplace. In that way, Jackson is much like the Beatles in that he signed a lot, but certain items can still command thousands.


To say Jackson was a generous signer is an understatement. Up until his death, you could leave stacks of things to be autographed at his Los Angeles home, and you would come back later in the day to discover he had sign them all without taking a dollar. I know people who would literally leave stacks of 30-40 items over and over again.

Some of those were albums, such as "Thriller" and "Bad," which now regularly sell signed for north of $4,500.

Jackson's clothing is a bit more complicated. When his main costume designers sold items at Julien's in 2012, controversy ensued. The costumes were good, but the autographs were failed by PSA, and that kind of soured things. His gloves, hats and shoes regularly sell, but the prices go along with how good the provenance is and maybe the letter that comes with it.

I still collect Jackson stuff, but I want the items to be really unique. I have a signed index card from his very early days.

As far as what everyone is looking for? I'd love to see his shoes from the 25th anniversary of the Motown show, when he did the moonwalk for the first time.

In my eyes, that's a million-dollar piece.