Oct 16 2011

“I don’t know what to do anymore. I tell the truth and it doesn’t work”

Category: Art,Friends,Justice,VideosSeven @ 12:18 am

Dick Zimmerman, known as ‘The Image Maker‘ and considered to be the most accomplished portrait artist of the 20th century, is the man who created the iconic cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller‘ album for Sony in 1982. He also created wedding portraits of Michael and Lisa Marie Presley, and the portrait of Michael for the Steven Spielberg’s ET Storybook album, which Michael narrated.

Dick Zimmerman appeared on Dr. Drew last week and shared a very touching story of meeting with Michael in he and Lisa Marie’s suite after the wedding portraits were done. Dick says that as they talked, the subject turned to the abusive media. Michael had tears in his eyes as he talked about the media’s portrayal of him after the television interview he did with Diane Sawyer. Michael tearfully said:

I told the truth and told them everything about me and they twisted it around. I don’t know what to do anymore. I tell the truth and it doesn’t work.

Dick also read the following statement about Michael on the Dr. Drew show:

DIck ZImmerman's statement about Michael on Dr. Drew

DIck ZImmerman's statement about Michael on Dr. Drew

You can watch the segment with Dick Zimmerman on Dr. Drew here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuKzEnmoRjY

You may remember the story of Michael’s outfit on the cover of Thriller, and that Michael actually ended up wearing Dick’s Zimmerman’s suit for that photoshoot. Dick shares this story and others on his website:

The day of the shoot arrived. I hired one of the best fashion stylists in LA to gather a large variety of wardrobe, and we began the arduous process of selecting attire for the cover and inside spread. After about an hour of weeding through the wardrobe, Michael couldn’t find anything he was crazy about. I started to panic. His eyes lit up when he noticed the white suit that I was wearing. He said, “That’s the look I like, do we have anything like that?” We didn’t. Time was fleeting. I was concerned about having enough time to execute my cover ideas. I indicated that we were about the same height and build and if he would like to wear mine. That was exactly what he wanted. Fortunately for the session and the time involved, the suit fit like it was tailored for him.

Dick also shared a beautiful portrait he’s done in honor of Michael, which you can see here:



The description from Dick Zimmerman’s site reads: This oil painted montage was created from three individual Dick Zimmerman photographic sessions with Michael Jackson throughout the fifteen years of their working and social relationship. The three sessions, in sequence, are the Thriller album cover, Steven Spielberg’s ET album narrated by Michael Jackson, and the exclusive wedding portraits of Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley.

You can purchase a print of this beautiful homage to Michael here. You can also purchase a print of that iconic ‘Thriller‘ cover at this same location as well.

Dick promises we’ll be hearing more from him about his time and work with Michael. On his Facebook page, Dick left the following message for MJ fans:

I want to thank all the Michael Jackson fans for all the terriffic responses sent to me on my Dr.Drew appearance…I was not totally sure which way it would go, but after receiving hundreds of responses, without any negatives from any crazies out there, I am thrilled to say I have only received positive support from all of you!

I’m very glad I had the opportunity to make a statement for all that were able to spot the truth and had similar admiration for this artistic genius.
…and there’s more to come!

Dick Zimmerman

I understand that Deborah Kunesh of Reflections on the Dance will be doing an interview with Dick Zimmerman soon too, so stay tuned for that!

Zimmerman said: “I thought Michael was like a gentle butterfly“. That is such an apt description that a friend of mine created a tribute video to Michael using the song “Black Butterfly” by Deniece Williams. Here it is:

Black Butterfly (lyrics)

Morning light, silken dream to flight
As the darkness gave way to dawn
You’ve survived, now your moment has arrived
Now your dream has finally been born

Black Butterfly, sailed across the waters
tell your sons and daughters
what the struggle brings
Black Butterfly, set the skies on fire
rise up even higher
so the ageless winds of time can catch your wings

While you slept, the promise was unkept
But your faith was as sure as the stars
Now you’re free, and the world has come to see
Just how proud and beautiful you are

Let the current lift your heart and send it soaring
Write the timeless message clear across the sky
So that all of can read it and remember when we need it
That a dream conceived in truth can never die

Cause now that you’re free and the world has come to see
Just how proud and beautiful you are

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Jul 12 2011

“I don’t want to leave…please, all I want to do is be a kid.”

Category: Art,Children,Photos,Prose/EssaysSeven @ 3:35 am

"I don't want to leave ... I just want to be a kid."

"I don't want to leave...please, all I want to do is be a kid."

I often think of Michael in that big tree at Neverland, because he climbed up during the Bashir documentary…and was really savoring those peaceful moments with nature. Remember how sweet his profile was? Michael was all about communing with the spirit and had more going for him just in the richness of his soul. But the moment that really got to me was when I looked out my second floor office window in the spring of 2010. I was fixated on one of the trees below, and suddenly Michael “appeared” under the tree. He was about 11 and was wearing that famous purple brimmed hat that he wore on the Ed Sullivan Show. His big eyes looked up at me and without words he was saying, “look at me, I’m down here. I don’t want to leave…please, all I want to do is be a kid.” I ran to the rest room and just fell apart. It took me about ten minutes to recover. Now every time I see that tree I can’t help thinking of him. Our lives have changed forever.

Even though it was all in my imagination, my heart and mind were there…with Michael…in the moment. I saw him looking at me, pleading with those eyes and it felt so real. I was trying to tell him that I could hear him, as if we were communicating with our souls.

Micheline James

_ _ _

{ I do not know who to credit for the artwork. It really is very whimsical and sweet. -Seven }

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Jul 10 2011

The Jackson-Strong Alliance. How strong was it?

Category: Art,Friends,PhotosSeven @ 12:51 am

'The Book' sitting in the corner of an upscale car dealership in Harlem

'The Book' sitting in the corner of an upscale car dealership in Harlem

Quite a while ago, I introduced you to the artwork of Brett Livingstone-Strong and two pieces of his art: “The Book“, and “The Lovers“.

I am unsure who has possession of “The Lovers” however I do know that “The Book” has been on quite a journey its lifetime. According to the Huffington Post, ‎”The 40-inch by 50-inch painting was last sold for $2.1 million in 1990, and was later acquired by toy inventors Marty Abrams and John Gentilly. The original portrait is currently on display in the showroom of the Dancy-Power Automotive Group, a luxury car dealership in Harlem.”

An artist’s proof of the painting has been sold by Julien’s for $5800, and prints are available from Mr. Strong at a price that many of us probably could not afford.

Brett and Michael had formed an art business partnership called the “Jackson-Strong Alliance” around 1989 – 1990 to display their art work, which included this portrait. They were brainstorming about how to raise money for charity when Brett mentioned that a Japanese businessman named Hiromichi Saeki, had offered millions of dollars for a portrait of Michael. Thus, Mr. Saeki was the first purchaser of “The Book“.  It was then later acquired by Abrams and Gentilly. Mr. Abrams had attempted to sell the portrait before Michael died, however he did not receive any offers and thus he placed it in storage for a while. Since Michael’s death, he has received offers but none that suit his requirements.

In addition to these pieces by Brett Livingstone-Strong, we’ve recently learned of another collection — not a collection of Strong’s artwork but rather a collection of Michael’s artwork created while under Strong’s tutelage. This collection has been estimated to be worth around $900 million dollars.

The Jackson Strong Alliance

The Jackson Strong Alliance

Brett Livingstone-Strong was Michael’s artistic mentor, apparently. Michael considered him a modern-day Michaelangelo. If a document allegedly given to Strong by Michael’s former manager Tohme Tohme is valid, the entire collection of Michael’s artwork had been bequeathed to him “to keep, sell, copy, exhibit and to use in whatever way you wish.

The hand-signed letter, dated November 17th, 2008 says in part:

Michael wants you to know he is truly grateful for the loyalty you have shown him over the years, and he views this as a small token of appreciation for your continued friendship and artistic partnership.”

However, there are major issues with this allegedly bequeathed collection of art:

  • Michael’s signature nor his initials are inked on the document.
  • The document purports to gifts hundreds of millions of dollars to Mr. Strong, at a time when Michael was swamped in debt.
  • Michael’s mother and his children were very dear to him. Would he not want them to benefit financially from this collection?
  • A source close to the Jacksons has said Dr. Tohme has refused to swear an affidavit confirming the letter was true. He was asked to do so by Howard Mann, who is Katherine Jackson‘s business partner.

To see an entire article about this collection, along with the letter Tohme allegedly wrote gifting it on Michael’s behalf to Strong, visit this link: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/27/unled15.jpg/

This collection of Michael’s art was created and kept at a secret airport hanger at Santa Monica airport. Michael apparently spent a good deal of time there working with Strong and working on his own artwork.

Oddly or not, the office of Dennis Hawk, Tohme Tohme’s lawyer, also resides in this same hangar/building and Hawk also had a framed print of “The Book” on his office wall.

The family certainly knew of this collection. Jermaine tweeted quite a bit about it recently and below is a photo of Oprah’s visit to the family compound before her interview with Mrs. Jackson and the children. In the photo you can clearly see Oprah examining the sketch Michael had done of Martin Luther King.

Oprah holding Michael's MLK sketch

Oprah holding Michael's MLK sketch

Also, Mrs. Jackson visited Strong at his hangar studio on July 5th, 2011 for tea, perhaps to work out some terms of settlement over the collection. Below is a photo of the gathering that had been posted on Strong’s Facebook page:

July 5th, 2011 Tea with Mrs. Jackson

July 5th, 2011 Tea with Mrs. Jackson

I’ve written here before about Michael and the number ‘7‘. He was very interested in this number and the number ‘777‘. You can find more information about the significance of these numbers to Michael (and in general) here and here. Once again the number ‘7’ surfaces, this time in one of Michael’s sketches:

Number '7' Chair sketch by Michael

Number '7' Chair sketch by Michael

Michael created sketches inspired by American presidents and other historical figures, including his first piece called “We the People,“, a piece executed on presidential archival paper estimated to be worth $3 million. He also did a sketch of “The White House Doors,” also said to be worth $3 million. And as you can see above, he did sketches of Martin Luther King. He did sketches of Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington, suggested to be worth $8.1 million combined, and he also did architectural artwork having designed and sketched some gates for Neverland. A collage of some of these pieces can be seen below.

Various sketches by Michael

Various sketches by Michael and more about his interest in the number '7'

There were two known bidders for this precious collection. Howard Mann, the controversial Toronto gambling entrepreneur (and Mrs. Jackson’s business partner) bid against Cirque de Soleil founder, World Poker Tour participant and billionaire, Guy Laliberté.

Being an apparent sore loser, Mann is oddly now joining in the family’s attempt to stop the $87.7 million dollar sale to an unknown third bidder – a mystery international buyer who was the winner in the bidding. Mann claims that the collection rightfully belongs to Michael’s children. I agree that this seems most appropriate. It certainly seems more appropriate than Howard Mann being the owner, much less a complete stranger.

Not only is there doubt about the validity of the letter from Tohme bequeathing the collection to Strong, but the appraiser (Eric Finzi) who valued the collection at $900 million may not be legitimate either. The society of which he is allegedly a member denies his membership. The International Society of Art Appraisers says that Eric Finzi has never been a member. “He is not and has never been a member.” Sara Porter, ISA’s membership and operations coordinator, told ARTINFO.

Besides this newly publicized artwork, Michael also worked with his mentor on some US national monuments. According to this website, “in 1994, the artist Brett Strong and the singer Michael Jackson teamed up to create the Jackson-Strong coalition. Part of their mission was to fulfill the original mandate of permanently placing the Presidency Monument at the south portico of the White House. Mr. Jackson moved the Presidency Monument to Washington, D.C. however, years of bureaucratic requisites and the dissolution of the Jackson-Strong Coalition forced the warehousing of the monument in Northern Virginia.”

The Presidential Monument

The Presidential Monument

Tohme next to a print of 'The Book' his lawyer Stephen Hawk's office

Tohme next to a print of 'The Book' in his lawyer Dennis Hawk's office, which is in the same airport hangar as Mr. Strong's studio

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Jun 05 2011

The Tragedy that is Human Nature

Category: Angels,Art,JusticeSeven @ 2:29 pm


In darkness and desperation the people cried to God: "won't you send us an angel?" and he said: "What did you do with the last one I sent you?"

A friend has commented in regards to this photo and caption:

It speaks a message that some in our world have still not heard — that the world was granted the gift of an angel and it squandered that gift, it persecuted and condemned him and in doing so laughed in the face of love itself. In losing Michael we learned the true meaning of darkness. If not for the light he continues to provide now, on the next stage of his journey, I surely would have lost myself under the weight of the tragedy that is human nature.

What have we done?
_ _ _

{ Thanks to my friend Tori for putting this quote with the photo and ‘Room’ for the astounding comment. The portrait is © David LaChapelle, 2009  -Seven }

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May 16 2011

“Never lose your boyish spirit, it’s immortal”

Category: Art,Friends,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 10:17 am

With Grey Hildebrandt at Helmsely Palace

With Greg Hildebrandt at Helmsely Palace

(Upper left photo: 1988- Michael Jackson, Bubbles and Greg Hildebrandt at Helmsley Palace in NY)

Michael being the consummate artist, often drew while he was on tour. Artist Greg Hildebrandt, who stayed with Michael at the Helmsely Palace during his Bad tour, shares his memories of the time he spent with Michael then. The letter at lower left in the photo was written by Michael to Greg and says:

Greg thanks for a magic moment in my life, I hope it was the same for you, please come to visit Neverland. Lets hope this is the beginning of a long friendship and never lose your boyish spirit, its immortal. Love Always, MJackson.

Greg Hildebrandt on these photos:

I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend time with Michael in 1988, during his Bad Tour, and in 1989 at his ranch, Neverland Valley. In 1988, Michael invited me to spend ten days with him during his Tour. He was performing in NJ at the time. As I lived in NJ, I told him I would be happy to drive back and forth to the city but he insisted on getting me a suite at the Helmsley Palace. We spent many hours together and I went to every concert with him. It was truly a wonderful experience.

What struck me from the first moment I met Michael was how intelligent he was. I of course knew his music and knew what an incredible performer he was, but I had no idea that he had deep passions for art and art history. He was especially passionate about American Illustrators.

We spent many hours talking about Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Jesse Wilcox Smith and of course his favorite Norman Rockwell. Michael sent an armored truck to my studio and they picked up over 150 of my paintings. They were leaning all around the suite and we spent quite a bit of time discussing my art and classic literature.

Michael was also an avid book collector and I was surprised to find out that he had every book I had illustrated. But my greatest surprise was when he asked me to give him drawing lessons. I quickly learned that he had a natural talent for art. We would sit and sketch, chat and eat popcorn. It was casual and enjoyable.

Michael was also a great fan of animation and loved the Disney films. He very much wanted to get into making movies. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be.

In 1989 Michael asked me to come to Neverland.  I spent 9 days with him at the ranch. It was very clear that Michael was trying to create a childhood he never had. Again it was a great experience. A very special moment in my life.

Michael Jackson was the King of POP. This is I hope how the world will remember him. This is his legacy. But for those who had the opportunity to spend time with him, he was so much more. Michael was intelligent, funny, passionate, and caring. He had more energy than anyone I had ever known. He was a brilliant performer. He loved life.

We will miss him. We wish him Gods speed.

-Greg Hildebrandt

Larger version of the note to Greg

Larger version of the note to Greg written on a single sheet of paper from the Pan Am in-flight duty free shop.

SOURCE: http://www.spiderwebart.com/memorial/2009-06-25_michael_jackson/michael_jackson_memorial.html

In August 2009 Michael’s drawing (lower right) was auctioned for $21,000.00.

With Greg and Jean Hildebrandt

With Greg and Jean Hildebrandt

There is also a contemporary artist whose work Michael admired and which appeared in the Michael Jackson Opus as well as in Michael’s book ‘Dancing the Dream‘. That artist is Nate Giorgio. In an interview here on MJ-777, Nate also said that Michael loved Norman Rockwell.

Billboard Magazine Cover Illustration by Mark Stutzman. June 26, 2010 Issue

Billboard Magazine Cover Illustration by Mark Stutzman. June 26, 2010 Issue

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