By Sandy Cohen
BEVERLY HILLS, California (AP) – Karen Jackson and Kiki Stafford were moved to tears as they walked among the items that surrounded Michael Jackson in his final days: The Victorian baby grand piano, the wooden armoire where Jackson had written a note to himself on the mirror, the kitchen chalkboard where his children inscribed the message, “I love daddy.”
Jackson, 57, and Stafford, 47, were among dozens of Michael Jackson fans who got an early look at items that will be sold at auction from the singer’s final home — and left behind tributes to the King of Pop.
Julien’s Auctions announced last month that it would sell the contents of the sprawling home where the singer died in 2009. On Sunday, the company invited Jackson fans to preview its exhibit of the home’s art and furnishings before it opens to the public Monday. Fans were also invited to leave pictures, cards, flowers, notes and other handmade trinkets that will be delivered to the Jackson family.
“This means a lot, because we don’t have a place to go” to leave things for the family, said Christine Tucker, spokeswoman for the Official Michael Jackson Fans of Southern California. About 25 members of the fan club spent the weekend making and delivering glitter-covered cards and handmade Christmas ornaments for the tribute at Julien’s Auctions.
“He inspires us to create. We make these beautiful things and we want his kids and his mom to see it,” she said.
Karen Jackson stayed up all night working on her creation: A charm-covered chain anchored by a metal “M’’ that includes tiny photos of Prince, Paris and Blanket.
“I’ve been working on this for a year,” she said. “I hadn’t finished it because I didn’t know how to get it to them.”
Darren Julien, president of Julien’s Auctions, said he sought permission from the Jackson estate to include fans in the auction exhibit, and family matriarch Katherine Jackson requested that he deliver any handmade items from fans to her.
“They put their hearts into it because they want the kids and Mrs. Jackson to see how much love they have for Michael,” Julien said. “Michael Jackson has played such an important part in our careers and lives, and this is a fun way to give back. This is Michael’s VIP reception.”
Julien’s Auctions was commissioned to sell the contents of Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in April, 2009. The company sold Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket for $1.8 million over the summer and his signature spangled glove for $350,000 in 2009.
For the auction of items from Jackson’s rented mansion at 100 North Carolwood Drive, Julien’s Auctions re-created the home’s various rooms inside its Beverly Hills showroom. There’s a formal dining room anchored by a long table and 10 carved chairs, an elegant living room with damask sofas, and several bedrooms — including the one where Jackson died.
The headboard of that bed was removed from the auction at his family’s request, so fans filled the space where the bed would have been with their tribute.
“Team MJ San Diego loves Michael Jackson,” one note spelled out in foil letters. “We miss you,” read another. Fans also left flowers and plush toys, drawings and letters.
“I’m glad the headboard’s not there,” said Stafford, who left behind a poem she’d written about Jackson.
Among the lots available for sale, fans were most interested in photographing the armoire with Jackson’s handwritten message (expected to sell for at least $6,000) and the chalkboard note from his children (expected to fetch more than $400).
Other items for sale include carved wooden tables, antique statues and various framed paintings.
Julien said he wanted Jackson’s fans to be part of the exhibit “not because they’re going to buy anything, but to honor his legacy.”
Fans are welcome to add to the tribute throughout the week, he said. The exhibit of items from 100 North Carolwood Drive is free and open to the public. The auction will be held Saturday.
AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen can be reached at www.twitter.com/APSandy.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.