King of Pop shows new face in unseen photos

Four photo portraits of Michael Jackson, taken in Paris in 1999 as part of a planned image makeover for the legend, went on show for the first time Friday ahead of their sale at auction later this year.

Each photo built around a theme - the blue eye, the silver hand, the red curtain and the golden cape - was taken by a French photographer, Arno Bani, on a request from Jackson who had seen his work in a British newspaper.

Jackson intended one shot - showing him wrapped only in a metallic gold cape - to illustrate his 2001 album "Invincible" and planned to use the others as part of an image makeover.

But the record was finally released with a simple black and white picture of Jackson's face, and Bani's pictures were shelved for a decade.

Now the four portraits are to go under the hammer in Paris on December 13 along with 55 selected pictures from the photo shoot, and 31 contact sheets - none of which has been seen in public before.

They were unveiled to the press ahead of their worldwide publication next Friday, in plain catalogue format and as part of a luxury box set.

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."

"Unlike other stars, Michael Jackson always created his own look."

One of the pictures shows Jackson with a glittering blue make-up circle around one eye, wearing a shiny Yves Saint-Laurent dinner suit covered in disc-shaped silver studs.

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

Portrait number three has Jackson standing in front of a red opera curtain, and the fourth features the gold cape.

From the two days the photographer spent with Jackson, he says he recalls a figure both sad and playful.

"During the make-up sessions he would spend long minutes staring at his reflection in the mirror," he recalled. "Then someone would come and fetch him and, suddenly, in the light he would become Michael Jackson again."

But at other times, he remembers having "fun playing around with glitter make-up. I showed him embroidery by the French master Francois Lesage - he was fascinated by the technique, by the whole world of haute couture."

After the shoot, Bani says he received a message from Jackson saying he "loved" the result - and admits he was deeply disappointed when the album came out without his pictures.

Following Jackson's death of cardiac arrest on July 25, 2009, he was approached about the photos, to which he had recently recovered the rights after a 10-year lapse.

"We took these photos for them to be seen. They weren't stolen images. Each one was approved by Jackson. But I didn't want to just give them away to anyone, as a one-shot in the press."

So came the idea of the auction coupled with a print release of the pictures to ensure, he says, that Jackson's fans could have access to the images too.

Auction bids are to start at 1,000 euros (1,400 dollars) for the four portraits, and 500 euros for the other items - asking prices set deliberately low, Bani says, to avoid charges of "elitism".

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before