Michael Jackson for a price


POSTED: Monday, July 13, 2009

Yes, we all loved him, and we've been watching endless reruns of “;Thriller”; since Michael Jackson unexpectedly died on June 25.

But now everyone wants a piece of “;The King of Pop”;—by capitalizing on anything and everything related to the beloved star.

In the days following Jackson's death, sales of his music have surged at both record stores and digital music outlets, according to Reuters, and it's expected to last for several more weeks or even months.

Here's the Deal: Much as you may have loved him, don't fall for the plethora of false deals out there on Michael Jackson memorabilia. Don't let the hype and sentimentality get to you—you could be overpaying for an item that isn't authentic.

Sure enough, a global market for Michael Jackson items is under way on eBay.

Before Jackson's death was even confirmed, sellers listed an average of 200 to 400 memorabilia items daily on eBay, according to SmartMoney. By the morning after his death, almost 20,000 Michael Jackson items were for sale on eBay—everything from his autographs to gloves, posters, concert tickets, watches, newspapers, even a Cheeto that supposedly predicted the death of the star.

Hop onto craigslist Honolulu, and sure enough, there are already some folks out there trying to pawn off their Michael Jackson memorabilia.

Someone is offering Michael Jackson's hat, with autographs from 1998, behind a plexiglass case for $4,600. Another is offering a framed gold Michael Jackson record for $15,000 (though perhaps he or she really meant $1,500?). Serious buyers, only, says the craigslist post, and cash only.

There are also posts offering Jackson's Thriller jacket for $3,000, a concert poster for $500, and an autograph for an open bid price.

The Hawaii Better Business Bureau is warning consumers not to jump at the first opportunity to buy Jackson memorabilia, saying that the currently inflated prices for many items will drop over time. Commemorative items are also being mass-produced, but they won't likely appreciate in value, warns the bureau.

The Better Business Bureau has the following advice:

» Confirm the authenticity. This won't be easy. While autographs can be verified by a third party, other items are more difficult to confirm. Do your research. Feel free to ask the seller plenty of questions about how he or she came to own the item. If the seller can't answer simple questions, then the collector should walk away, says the bureau.

» Use a credit card. If shopping online, purchasing items with a credit card could protect you from fraudulent sellers because you can dispute the charge with the credit card company and be eligible for reimbursement. Check your credit card policy.

» Purchase from a reputable seller. Look for the BBB seal on Web sites and click on it to confirm its legitimacy. If there is no seal, you can check on the record of a company at http://www.bbb.org or hawaii.bbb.org.

On eBay, check out a seller's tack record by reading buyer reviews—and of course, on craigslist, never wire money as a form of payment.

» Watch out for empty advertising claims. Beware of the term “;limited edition,”; because it does not necessarily mean it is. Chances are that millions of the item were made, if it's being widely advertised, and it won't gain much value over the years.

Finally, it's hard to put a value on a sentimental item. If you were lucky enough to go to one of Jackson's 1997 concerts at the Aloha Stadium in Honolulu—the last U.S. city where he performed—or to have his autograph, then you might want to hang on to what you have. The experience itself is priceless.