King of Pop photos sold at Paris auction

14th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

A collection of photo portraits of Michael Jackson, taken in Paris in 1999 as part of an image makeover for the legend, went under the hammer here along with hundreds of snaps from the photo shoot.

The 90 lots brought in 196,000 euros (265,000 dollars) at the sale late Monday, with a large format shot showing the late singer bare-chested and draped in a golden cape fetching the top price of the evening at 26,000 euros.

The photos were taken by French photographer Arno Bani, in part to illustrate Jackson's 2001 album "Invincible," and were built around four themes -- the blue eye, the silver hand, the red curtain and the golden cape.

But the record company finally used other shots for the album cover and Bani's pictures were shelved for a decade before being put up for sale.

The 12 portraits -- three on each theme -- were sold along with 55 selected pictures from the photo shoot and 31 contact sheets, a total of almost 700 images of the king of pop.

The images had been on display since Saturday at the Salomon de Rothschild mansion in Paris ahead of their sale by auction house Pierre Berge and Associes.

Michael Jackson photos and memorabilia have racked up top prices at auction since his death from cardiac arrest on July 25, 2009, with a portrait by Andy Warhol selling for 812,500 dollars and a glove for 350,000 dollars.

Bani took the shots in a giant studio set up for the occasion in a warehouse near Paris, complete with helipad and access for Jackson's bullet-proof car.

"He gave me complete carte blanche," Bani recalled of the marathon two-day shoot. "I even asked him to cut his hair, and he agreed."

One of the themes shows Jackson with a glittering blue make-up circle around one eye, wearing a shiny Yves Saint Laurent dinner suit.

A second shows him in a speckled black polo neck, pulled up to below dark shaded eyes, against a backdrop of multicoloured dots.

Image number three has Jackson standing in front of a red opera curtain, and the fourth shows him wrapped only in a metallic gold cape.

© 2010 AFP

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