I admit to a bit of morbid curiosity. I was not only interested in finding out what kind of Michael Jackson memorabilia has been selling since the death of the pop icon, but was also curious about their price and potential value as investments.
To that end I picked up the phone and called Dave Margulius, publisher of collectorsweekly.com. He gave me a primer of five rules for collectors, a least for collectors who are paying for the privilege.
"Do you love it"? He asked. "If the item turns out to be monetarily worthless, would you still be happy to possess it"? Margulius advises making the purchase only if the answer is yes. The last thing you want is to have buyer's remorse because you were caught up in the hype of the moment.
While you purchase something for yourself, you also do so for the purpose of showing it off. Ask yourself how will it appear on your bookshelf, wall, or coffee table. Is the memento visually appealing? Even more importantly, will your significant other allow it inside the house? "A Michael Jackson signed guitar might be really cool and displayable because you can pick it up and play "Billie Jean", whereas an original studio executive's copy of the 35mm film version of "Thriller" in its original metal canister might be unique but pretty boring to look at," advises Dave.
Here Dave takes a contrarian point-of-view, but there is logic to it. Personally used items are appealing because of their exclusivity. At the same time, they can be the most difficult to authenticate. Sellers know buyers will jump at the chance of something personal and exclusive and the unscrupulous will fabricate to meet that demand.
Rule#4-Develop a Theme
Try to build your collection around a theme -- a noteworthy event such as Michael Jackson's memorial service, or a specific article of clothing such as his hats or gloves. "Not only will your collection be complementary and complete, but you will also become a real expert on the items you choose. You can potentially create a website to showcase it and interested sellers and buyers will know how to contact you.
Rule#5-Confirm the Back Story
One of the biggest questions when making a purchase online is: is this real? Apparently, the "letter of authenticity" isn't enough these days because creating phony "genuine" articles is easy with today's technology. Dave suggests DNA testing by a reputable grading agency if you're considering a substantial purchase. "Mass media photographs or article mentions such as MJ wearing the exact item are also helpful," counsels Dave.
Now that you have a script to follow for MJ collectibles and others, what King of Pop items are selling best on E-bay? MJ fedora hats both black and white, signed Michael Jackson guitars, "Beat It" style red leather jackets, signed posters and photographs and Michael Jackson and Jackson five picture disc albums.
Yes, prices have increased since the music star's untimely death. Over the long haul, some items may increase in value while others won't. Remember value to the collector is in large part based on personal perception. Thanks Dave, nice picking your brain.
(If you want to see more of my stories and new GossipGrams go to nbcnewyork.com)