An over-the-top portrait of Michael Jackson is going up for auction online.
The eBay.com auction of the fantastical 50-by-40-inch painting by Australian artist Brett-Livingstone Strong will launch Wednesday evening, the portrait's owner said Tuesday.
Titled "The Book," the colorful work is reportedly the only painting for which the King of Pop ever posed. It depicts Jackson, clad in a Renaissance-era red velvet jacket, seated amid a sweeping checkerboard floor underneath a magically translucent curtain 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 last June. The painting, which also features the fairy character Tinkerbell hovering in the background, is hanging inside Abrams' home in Kings Point, N.Y.
The painting was originally sold to Saeki for $2.1 million in 1990. Abrams said the painting was appraised by Belgo Fine Art Appraisal and Restoration at $5.3 million in 2000, but he believes it is worth more now. Abrams hopes it will fetch over $3 million in the auction, which is scheduled to end April 17. The minimum starting bid will be $2.75 million.
"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 organizer 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."
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