It was March 25, 1983 during the 25th anniversary of the famous Motown label, on his track "Billie Jean". The sequence will be broadcast on May 16, 1983 by the American network NBC.

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

"It is a certain Adam Kelly - whose badge we have for the show of March 25, 1983 - who recovers this hat that day, thinking that the staff of the singer would come to retrieve it, but no," says Arthur Perault, general manager and co-founder of Artpèges.

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

"This is the very first Fedora" worn by the "King of Pop" (1958-2009) during a performance, says Arthur Perault. But the estimate of the hat is nevertheless below another piece on sale that day, a guitar of bluesman T-Bone Walker (1910-1975), major influence of B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton.

Michael Jackson records a show on April 20, 2002 in Pasadena (California) © LEE CELANO / AFP / Archives

This six-string, produced in only 22 copies in 1949, is valued between 100,000 and 150,000 euros.

"Mature market"

"The vintage guitar market is high and the market for Michael Jackson has been held back due to several factors, such as the sale of fakes and accusations against him," decrypts the co-founder of Artpèges.

Documentaries, disputed by his heirs, regularly revive accusations of paedocriminality, denied during his lifetime by the singer who has never been convicted for such facts.

Recently, a series of auctions of thousands of objects 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.

The lining of the hat worn by Michael Jackson, auctioned by Drouot, exhibited on September 12, 2023 in Paris © Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

Bidders came from 76 countries in Europe, North America and Latin America and buyers from 50 countries.

For this Fedora of Michael Jackson, Arthur Perault is "very optimistic" and expects an "international clientele": "Even if we must always remain cautious, we are in a movement that only goes upwards for rock memorabilia (memories)". "It's a market that is maturing, some objects are compared to Picassos, like Paul McCartney's Höfner (bass that disappeared 54 years ago)," he said.

More unusual, there will also be a section of the wall of the Bus Palladium, 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.

Michael Jackson's Fedora hat, exhibited in Paris on September 12, 2023 before being auctioned by Drouot © Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

"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.

© 2023 AFP