Artist News

Unreleased Michael Jackson album withdrawn from auction

By | Published on Thursday 13 July 2017

Michael Jackson

An album’s worth of unreleased Michael Jackson material has been pulled from an auction of musical memorabilia. The CD was due to go up for sale in the Gotta Have Rock And Roll online auction next week, with a starting price of $50,000.

The album was described on the listing as “Michael Jackson’s personally owned copy of his final album consisting of twelve finished tracks, all with finished vocals”. It was apparently sourced from an unidentified personal assistant.

Three of the tracks on the record – ‘Monster’, ‘Breaking News’ and ‘Stay’ – actually featured on posthumous album ‘Michael’, which was released in 2010. However, the other nine are seemingly all previously unheard.

The sale of the album drew much media attention, an added layer of mystique being that the new owner would be prohibited from distributing the music contained on the record, because they were buying the physical disc, not any rights to do anything with the music on it beyond playing the CD in private.

Generally speaking people are allowed to sell on CDs they legitimately acquire without infringing anyone’s copyright – under what is called the ‘first sale doctrine’ in the US – though in the good old says of promo CDs going out to journalists, those usually had a ‘not for resale’ condition stuck on them.

Not that that ever stopped any journalists from selling the more attractive promo records on. Though had they been sold at a mega-bucks auction, the labels which sent out the promos might have complained. It’s not clear whether or not this Jackson rarity album has dropped off the published list of items up for auction because of any complaint from the Jackson estate or his label Sony Music.

Though a spokesperson for the Gotta Have Rock And Roll auction told CMU that this was not the case, saying: “It was withdrawn on the request of the consignor who felt that it would be more respectful of Michael’s work to sell to privately, as it was garnering too much media attention. We honoured his wishes”.

The release of an EP of previously unheard Prince tracks was blocked earlier this year; though that was a producer actually trying to stage a commercial release of master recordings he was sitting on, rather than just selling the actual master tapes. The Prince estate argued that an agreement between Prince and that producer prohibited the release.

UPDATE 13 Jul, 15.35pm: Added statement from the Gotta Have Rock And Roll auction.