Friday, January 13, 2012

Two Black Hats

Today we'll look at two black wool hats from the auction market. There is nothing especially remarkable for these hats except for their provenance. The first black hat is a bowler from Sotheby's New York auction last month of Fine Books and Manuscripts. The accompanying typescript explains the history of Charlie Chaplin's hat, including Chaplin's being named in a paternity suit in 1909.

Charlie Chaplin, Bowler Hat

The second black hat comes from the collection of Arnold Klein, M.D. As you probably recall, in 1984, while filming an ad for Pepsi, Michael Jackson's hair caught fire. He sustained second degree burns to his scalp which would come to cause him lifelong pain. According to Dr. Klein, this is the hat worn by Michael Jackson when he came home from the hospital after his initial treatment for this injury.

Sale 20105 - The Collection of Dr. Arnold Klein, 23 Jan 2012 California, Los Angeles 
Lot No: 1040
Michael Jackson-worn hat

Black wool with a thin black, wool band and a silver buckle.In 1984, at the top of his game, Pepsi hired Jackson and his brothers to perform in an elaborate commercial before a live audience. During the fireworks sequence, the singer was showered with sparks, alighting his hair. Jackson remained completely calm throughout, assuring his audience and fans that he was fine, although he suffered second-degree burns to his scalp, an injury that would cause him life-long pain.According to Dr. Klein, this hat was worn by Jackson as he left the hospital after receiving treatment. The doctor remained with the singer overnight in the hospital until he was able to return home and, as a gesture of gratitude, Jackson gave the hat to Dr. Klein.With an inscribed and signed note in Jackson's hand on "Michael Jackson/ Thriller" notepaper: "To: Dr. Klein From - Michael Jackson."Encased in plexiglas.
15 x 18 x 16 in (including plexiglas)

Estimate: US$7,000 - 10,000

The Chaplin bowler sold within it's estimate. Michael Jackson's hat will be sold on January 23. The estimate of $7,000 to $10,000 seems reasonable, I suppose, on the basis of the musician's phenomenal popularity. My question is, what are the odds of the Jackson hat selling for more than the Chaplin hat?

January 23, 2012 Update: Sales result: Unsold.



  1. Hmm I think I'll pass on these two. But what I really need is one of John Steed's bowler hats!