It was the first day of the estate sale of Dr. Arnold Klein, Botox pioneer and dermatologist to the late Michael Jackson.
Klein’s former residence had been stripped and subsequently re-stuffed with his stuff; the skin doctor declared bankruptcy in January 2011, and he’s been embroiled in lawsuits and controversy surrounding his spending habits and finances, his medical practice, and, in particular, Michael Jackson’s death (Klein prescribed Jackson with the narcotic painkiller Demerol, for one). Munyon & Sons are selling his effects Wednesday through Saturday as agents of the U.S. Trustee Program, the federal agency that oversees bankruptcy cases, Will Munyon said.
The house on Windsor Boulevard is a big brick affair in a neighborhood called Windsor Square, where the median age is 38 and the percentage of widows is among the highest in L.A. County. There are tall palm trees, and a little after 8 a.m. there was already a long line of buyers and browsers outside the house — at least 50; the official start time of the sale was 8, but a bald man named Steve managing the crowd said, “There was already, like, 300 or 400 people here.”
At 8:50, everyone started moving toward the door, and I moved with them because I trusted their instincts like I trust vultures to find a corpse. Everyone in line signed a liability waiver, including the young man with the white man’s attempt at a high-top fade who had to sign it a second time because his name was initially illegible. A man standing ahead of me in line held an opaque binder with a script. Close to 10, I was waved inside.
Here’s what I learned about the dermatologist while browsing through his stuff:
1. Klein had an Earring Magic Ken.
2. Klein had a lot of very sexualized images of women.
A woman lying on her stomach, wearing lingerie. She’s pictured from just below the shoulder blades to just above the knees.
There were dozens of line drawings of naked women, many with their legs spread.
Four naked women, two visible vulvas.
Two images of women, two visible vulvas.
Princess Leia figurine wearing her “slave bikini.”
A photograph of a man grabbing the thigh of a mostly-nude woman. Her face is out of frame. Another scantily-clad woman sits on his lap.
Elvira, sprayed on a jacket.
Two topless women at the beach, faces scarcely visible.
A woman in a slinky red garment being cut into by a surgeon.
3. In addition to explicitly sexualized images of women, he would collect implicitly sexualized images, like these Marilyn Monroe prints.
4. He framed a pair of women’s undergarments.
The plaque says these bloomers are from Gone With The Wind.
5. He loved all things Versace.
6. He wanted to sit on furniture shaped like body parts.
A lip sofa and a hand chair.
Baseball glove chair, by the pool.
7. He would also go for tchotchkes shaped like body parts.
Large blue acrylic lips.
8. He owned many tchtochkes in general.
A polar bear figurine that apparently can “ice skate” around in a circle.
Two glass flowers.
A Redskins foam finger.
9. He had a grab-bag collection of “ethnic” art.
10. He had many toilet options.
11. He liked movie memorabilia.
12. Michael Jackson once gave him a box set of The Godfather trilogy and signed it.
“To Arnold THANX Love your friend Michael Jackson.”
13. He owned many throw pillows.
Some were monogrammed.
14. He was not averse to the color yellow.
15. He had some level of appreciation for Italian cars.
16. He owned at least three wheelchairs.
Above, two of the three noted at the sale.
17. Part of his ceiling was designed to look like the sky.
There are little twinkling stars, and occasionally a “shooting star” will appear.
18. He and Freddie Mercury may have had an inside joke about mustaches.
The plaque reads, “DEAREST ARNIE, LIFE IS NOT TERRIBLE WITH A MUSTACHE. BEST WISHES, FREDDIE.”
19. Klein owned many images of his patient, Michael Jackson.
At left, Michael Jackson as an angel with his foot on a devil’s chest.
Large image of a limp Michael Jackson being cradled by Jesus in the forest.
20. Klein had a hat that belonged to Jackson.
Black hat, priced at $10,000.
21. The artist John Baldessari signed something to him.
“FOR ARNIE” on the left, “BALDESSARI” on the right.
22. Klein owned a cow holding a platter. For parties?
The little estate sale sign taped to the banister points upstairs to Michael Jackson’s room in the house.
23. He had many TVs.
A room upstairs was full of TVs.
24. And he had several chandeliers.
25. No one has been watering his cactus.
26. He used to have fish.
No sign of life in this rank-looking fish tank.