UPDATE: The unreleased Michael Jackson album has been removed from public auction, but will still be available for purchase. "Due to an overwhelming response, interest and media attention, all parties involved in the sale of the Michael Jackson unreleased album wish to keep the integrity of Michael Jackson's legacy by removing it from public auction," a rep said in a statement to Rolling Stone. "Private inquires only at Gottahaverockandroll.com. Those interested in purchasing can still listen to the album by appointment."
An album containing nine unheard Michael Jackson songs will be auctioned off by New York auction house Gotta Have Rock and Roll later this month. The album, which appears as a blank disc with the word "Bible" written in pen, is one of many Jackson items available to preview before a public online auction that lasts from July 19th to 28th.
The unreleased songs appear on a CD that was in Jackson's possession. Alternate mixes of the three songs on the recording have already surfaced: "Monster," "Breaking News" and "Keep Your Head Up" all appeared on Michael in 2010. The other nine tracks, all of which are reportedly master quality, have not been released.
The starting bid on the unreleased album is $50,000, though organizers tell Rolling Stone that they expect the final price to go as high as $1 million. Whoever takes home the CD will not own rights to the music, so the winning bidder cannot distribute the recording. According to the auction house, the album was obtained by "the personal friend and personal assistant to Michael whose family was very close to Michael for many years, traveling all over the world with him." When reached for comment, a rep for Gotta Have Rock and Roll said Jackson's friend wished to remain anonymous.
The latest Jackson album is one of many items of pop memorabilia obtained by Gotta Have Rock and Roll for the upcoming sale. Other Jackson items include hand-drawn self-portraits, clothing, his "personally owned teddy bear" and a "Best Daddy in the World" Oscar statuette given by his children.
The auction will also include the handwritten letter Tupac sent to Madonna while in prison in 1995 in which the rapper discusses the reasons for their breakup. That letter is expected to sell for over $100,000.
Two albums of Jacksons' songs have come out since his death in 2009. The first, Michael, was a source of controversy: several longtime Jackson associates believed that the vocals on some songs – notably "Breaking News," included again on this album for auction – did not actually belong to the King of Pop. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Will.i.am, who worked with Jackson during the 2000s, said the new record was "not Michael Jackson," before adding flatly, "it disgusts me." Jackson's brother Randy also questioned the authenticity of the vocals.
In response to these concerns, Howard Weitzman, a lawyer for the Jackson estate, went so far as to release a statement saying that "one of the best-known forensic musicologists in the nation" – Weitzman did not name the investigator – had determined that the vocals belonged to Jackson.
The follow-up album, 2014's Xscape, did not set off as many high-profile arguments. A-list producers like Timbaland, Stargate and Darkchild filled out tracks that Jackson started between 1983 and 1999. Lead single "Love Never Felt so Good" climbed to Number Nine on the Hot 100.
Michael Jackson Unreleased Album Track List
2. "Breaking News"
4. "Keep Your Head Up"
5. "Everything’s Just Fine"
6. "Black Widow"
7. "Burn Tonight"
8. "All I Need"
10. "Let Me Fall in Love"
11. "Ready to Win"
12. "Soldier Boy"