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Asia's first big pop culture auction in Macau

MICHAEL Jackson's shimmering white rhinestone glove was auctioned last year in New York to Hoffman Ma from Macau for US$350,000 and it now resides in casino-resort Ponte 16's gallery of Jackson memorabilia.

On October 9, Ma, the deputy CEO of Ponte 16, and Julien's Auctions are organizing the first celebrity memorabilia and pop culture auction in Asia.

More than 400 items - including Jackson's black crystal glove - will go under the hammer.

The auction will take place at Ponte 16 casino and resort after a week-long exhibition.

The items to be auctioned include a burgundy velvet ball gown worn by Princess Diana to a 1989 event at the French Embassy, and Michael Jackson's black Swarovski crystal glove worn during his US$30 million promotion for the album "HIStory: Past, Present and Future." Other items of Jackson's are to be auctioned.

Ma recently spoke to Shanghai Daily in Macau about the live auction.

Q: Why did you bid for Jackson's glove?

A: I went for the glove on behalf of my uncle, CEO of Ponte 16 Macau, who is a huge fan of Jackson. At first he wanted it in his personal collection but I suggested establishing a permanent MJ exhibition in our hotel. We have been buying Jackson memorabilia from around the world and now have 40 items. I'm also a fan and it's good to have a place where fans can gather and immerse themselves in music history.

Q: What make celebrity memorabilia valuable?

A: Each celebrity item represents part of history, a piece of his or her career. A lot of stories behind a particular piece make it valuable.

Q: How did you make this pop culture auction happen?

A: After I bought the glove at Julien's Auctions. I suggested to Julien's that we join hands and bring an auction to Macau, in China, where the global economy is focused. We started with the Macau stop of the "Rock the World" exhibition in May and then discussed the first pop culture auction in Asia.

More than 400 auction items are involved and more than 100 will be displayed at Ponte 16 as the grand finale of a world tour from September 24 to October 8. Highlight collections are also touring Japan and Chile before the final exhibition.

Q: Talk about the pop-culture auctions in the United States.

A: Pop culture auctions have been there a long time, it's fan-driven. What keeps the industry alive depends on the popularity of the celebrity collectables, the stories behind and the fans' consuming power.

Fans are the key market but there are also investors and people who want to grab a piece of history. People collect celebrity memorabilia for investment and personal pride. The more admiration a piece gets, the more it's worth.

Q: Collecting pop culture is new in China as most go for antiques and art. Where do you see pop culture collecting going?

A: It can go in parallel with modern art. A lot of artists use Marilyn Monroe in their works so historical figures are elements that can be used in art. All these celebrity memorabilia are another form of modern art. It's a more abstract form of art. Currently, Asian buyers contribute about 40 percent of Julien's Auctions revenue.

Q: How would you advice a new collector of celebrity memorabilia?

A: They first need to study the history behind a particular piece and behind a particular artist.

Q: Are you bringing other entertainment projects to China?

A: We are bringing a big Hollywood movie shoot to Macau.


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