How Julien’s Auctions and Michael Lee Bush cheated fans and buyers






By:- Richard Lecocq / MJ data bank


The controversy surrounding the latest Michael Jackson costumes auction organized by Michael Lee Bush and Julien’s Auction’s is not over…

… The former MJ costume designer had just returned from a “blitzkrieg” like promotional tour in several Hard Rock Cafes in Europe and the handling of his book signing events were something of a strange surprise to the fans. Each visitor had no choice but to buy Bush’s book to get the opportunity to meet and greet him. Also, a book purchase was required to see the very few items he had okay-ed to be displayed at the signing (watch our video and fans’ reactions here). The controversy took another turn when fans discovered that MJ’s costumes and personal belongings that Bush had in his possession were among the many items that were up for sale in the auction.


After facing the wrath of MJ fans at many of the book tour stops, the fashion designer quickly issued a public statement ensuring that the Estate would receive the most iconic and unique costumes back in their possession in order to display them in honor of MJ’s legacy at a future date and place. Yet, this statement did not address the autographs on the outfits. The signature controversy is unsolved, though not unquestioned. Quite a few people have noticed that something was wrong with the autograph written on MJ’s clothing and other memorabilia.


The autographs are described as “signed by Michael Jackson.” Much of these pieces bear the same signature style and likeness. I have to admit that these autographs do not look like those signed by the King of Pop in his lifetime (and this is even taking into account the fact that his signature had naturally evolved over the years). The lines and letters look different. Having seen Michael Lee Bush signing his book to fans in Paris, I can tell you that his style of writing and signing tends to approach that of MJ’s, in a more or less conscious influence. All these details together have let the doubts we feel around this whole business soar. During last Sunday’s auction, a fan noticed something odd in the contents of one auction listing. A 2009 Bravado-Triumph licensed LA Gear Standee signed TO BUSH, LOVE MICHAEL JACKSON, had just been sold for almost $3000.


In my attempt to research the facts, I have read through many documents (contracts and court documents). I have discussed my finding with former MJ merchandisers who were there in 2009, and I thought back to my experiences as I also was involved in the promotion of many items that were produced in Michael’s lifetime (T25 products, original Pyramid posters etc…). After all this, I can confidently tell you that this standee was actually produced by Bravado in late 2009 — so after MJ’s untimely passing. Earlier in 2009, Bravado had acquired the merchandising rights related to the This Is It concerts. Bravado, a company that is tied to AEG (producer of the ill-fated tour), subsequently obtained a waiver to design, produce and release generic Michael Jackson products (that would no longer bear the exclusive This Is It brand and logo). This decision was validated before the Court of Los Angeles in August 2009.


However, some “fans” are in a zone of denial. They seem to be blinded by Bush’s charisma or Julien’s Auctions’ power as an auction house. These fans want to push and believe that the standee is an approved a prototype of some sort. Sorry, but this excuse does not work. Just take a look at the bottom of the standee and the logos printed on it. If this standee had ever been created for This Is It, it then should have had the Bravado and AEG logos on it (with (C) BRAVADO under license to AEG LIVE, and not Triumph International). It can’t have the Triumph logo on it.


For the record, Triumph is a company Michael Jackson created in the early 80s to produce and market official products with his name, image and likeness around the world. Since 2007, the company was no longer active, and it was resurrected by John Branca’s office on August 14, 2009, so quite close to two months after the Michael Jackson’s untimely passing. Thus, all MJ Bravado products designed, produced and manufactured up to Michael Jackson’s passing bear the This Is It logo and/or slogan. This explains why a “generic” item like a Thriller T-shirt “was” (because of contractual obligations) This Is It branded. Given all these elements, it is therefore impossible to say that any prototype created by Bravado / Triumph International just like this L.A Gear standee could have been presented to MJ for any hypothetic validation and / or impromptu signing as a prototype. Not to forget that as of June 14, 2009, Bravado people were still struggling to reach Michael Jackson so that he could okay the products that were to be sold at the O2 in London and on the Bravado website.

And regarding Julien’s Auctions, please keep in mind that Michael Jackson never wanted to work with this company. In late 2008, his manager Dr. Tohme had taken control over his personal and professional business (meaning he could manage and sign deals on behalf of MJ). Tohme worked on an auction with Julien’s that was to include 95% of MJ’s personal belongings. A lavishly produced catalog was eventually released and sold on JA’s website, and still is. Jackson was not aware of this project, and when he finally heard about it, it was presented to him as an “exhibition” that was to take place in Beverly Hills. After he discovered what was actually going on, he immediately wanted to stop the sale as it looked like personal failure and humiliation.
To MJ, it looked as if all his life and grandeur was to be sold and lost to the world. And not surprisingly, the deals Tohme had drafted with AEG were not in Jackson’s favor. The King of Pop’s sole chance to get his personal belongings back was to accept the contract with AEG that signed him up to perform 31 concerts at the O2 in London (50 shows were eventually scheduled). He had no opportunity to file any lawsuit against this auction until he was on his way to London to announce his long awaited comeback on stage during the famous March 5, 2009 press conference. Just as he fulfilled these obligations, he was finally able to bring the case to court and eventually got the auction cancelled. And Tohme, in what looks like a desperate attempt to win back the slightest confidence and trust Jackson could have in him, even physically threatened Darren Julien, founder and owner of Julien’s Auctions, and “urged” him to stop the auction as soon as possible.
And since that time, for one reason or another, Julien’s Auction’s has been in charge of all auctions MJ. The Estate of Michael Jackson has not opted for another auction house that Jackson had no history with, such as Sotheby’s or Christie’s.
Rarely has an artist’s legacy been so badly handled and disrespected in such a short period of time, with some of “his closest collaborators” taking the lead. As this indecent circus keeps going, we would like to address our sincere condolences to all the fans who have invested money in these objects whose authenticity now looks doubtful.
Richard Lecocq
Original link and photos:
MJ data bank /
MJ data bank /
MJ data bank / – Site français consacré à Michael Jackson. Reconnu par Sony Music (France, UK & USA) et The Estate of Michael Jackson.


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