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Michael Jackson Photo by French Photographer Arno Bani Sells for Just Under $35,000
An undated and never-before-published handout contact board of Michael Jackson provided by French Auctionneers Pierre Berge Associes. This session was shot by French photographer Arno Bani in 1999 and was intended for the cover of his tenth and final studio album, 'Invincible', released by Epic Records on October 30, 2001. EPA/Arno Bani.

By: Diane Falconer

PARIS (REUTERS).-A photograph of Michael Jackson posing as an Egyptian pharaoh sold for 26,000 euros ($34,880) Monday at an auction featuring four never-before-seen portraits of the "King of Pop."

The portrait of the late "Thriller" singer as a pharaoh, dressed in a gold cape and with dark shaded eyes, was bought at the Paris auction by Ora-Ito designer Ito Morabito. With the added commission, the final price ran at 32,240 euros.

"I have been a fan since I was born," Morabito said. "It is unique and really represents who he was. 50 percent man, 50 percent god."

Since his sudden death in June 2009 due to an overdose of drugs, Jackson photos and memorabilia have sold for record prices. The "Billie Jean" singer's trademark white glove sold at an auction of Jackson memorabilia for $350,000 last year in November, a few months after his death.

A posthumous album with new material and entitled "Michael," hits the stores this week.

A second portrait showing Jackson with sparkling blue glitter around his left eye soared to 25,000 euros in less than a minute. A third picture showed the singer in a black shirt pulled up to below the eyes standing against a screen of multicolored beads. It sold for 22,000 euros.

The fourth portrait, featuring Jackson standing in front of a red curtain, fetched 9,000 euros. Most of the other lots sold for around 1,500 euros.

The pictures were taken in 1999 by French photographer Arno Bani, then just 23. Jackson had reportedly wanted him to take the pictures for his 10th album "Invincible," released in 2001, the singer's last studio album.

The photographer signed over the rights to Sony for 10 years but the pictures were never used by the record label.

About 200 fans and dealers turned out at the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, a private mansion in Paris. The sale was run by the house Pierre Berge & associes.



(Editing by Paul Casciato)


© Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.



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