Michael Jackson’s signature military-style jackets and single-handed Swarovski crystal-studded gloves undeniably constitute an integral part of his persona. That said, the single most iconic part of his outfit is the black fedora, which he wore not only on stage, but also in his everyday life from the beginning of the 80s until the day of his death.
The first time Michael Jackson wore the black hat in public was at Motown Records’ 25th anniversary, where he sang his brand new hit “Billie Jean”. The song, as well as the album “Thriller” on which it appears, became a worldwide success. Even today, it is the best-selling album of all times.
Michael Jackson later regularly ended live performances of the song by throwing his hat into the audience after singing the last line “Billie Jean is not my lover.” In all of his tours, he threw a total 329 fedoras into the ecstatic crowds.
Here’s a breakdown of the total number of fedoras (one per show):
- Victory Tour – 55 shows
- Bad Tour – 123 shows
- Dangerous Tour – 69 shows
- HIStory Tour – 82 shows
Combined with his other performances, a total of 335 hats were taken by the fans. The six other shows that were not part of a tour are the following:
- MTV Music Awards in 1995
- the birthday party of the Sultan of Brunei in 1996
- MJ & Friends concerts in 1999 (2 shows)
- 30th Anniversary concerts in Madison Square Garden in 2001 (2 shows)
Although the majority of the hats caught by fans at concerts have either been destroyed or so badly worn as to be practically unrecognizable, the black fedora is still the most frequently encountered piece of Michael Jackson memorabilia at auctions.
The King of Pop was so much taken with these secret agent style hats that they became an integral part of his everyday life. What is more, even his backup-dancers wore fedoras identical to his. According to a conservative estimate, there were at least 150-200 other black fedoras besides the stage-worn Billie Jean hats, which Michael Jackson used in his everyday life. He donated every one of them to friends, guests, and charity organizations. Today, these hats are typically sold at $4,000–$12,000 at auctions.
Thanks to its frequency and its selling price, the fedora has become a favourite item for counterfeiters.
However, by paying attention to the following details on Jackson hats, you can avoid falling for fake items. Original Michael Jackson fedoras have ALL of the below characteristics:
- His hats up until 1990 (manufactured by Maddest Hatter, Worth & Worth or Golden Gate Hat Company) feature a white liner, and the name and logo of the manufacturer is printed on the liner tip. However, the hats he wore regularly after 1990 lacked the lining altogether. This list is restricted to hats he wore between 1990 and 2009 (made by Dorfman-Pacific Co., Inc), as these are the most frequent ones.
- Michael Jackson wore two different sizes because of his hair (and his wigs): medium and large. The material and the size of the hat is always indicated on a small golden paper label on the inside. The X-Large sizes were made for his dancers.
- All of Michael Jackson’s hats are made of 100% wool. The unique identifier of this material is: WPL 5923. This code is also indicated on the golden label on the inside.
- All hats feature a 3.8 cm (1.5’’) black ribbon, and as usual for men’s hats, there is a bow above the left ear (i.e. left ear if you’re wearing the hat, right ear if you’re facing the person wearing it).
- The outer edge of the brim is neither bent back, nor is it sewed down. The curve is simply created by the shape of the cut.
- The height of the back part of the hat is lower than that of the front part. The top of the crown is dented in a triangular shape.
- If there is a Michael Jackson signature on the hat, it is a good idea to compare the signature to those on other signed hats or to consult a professional. In some cases, genuine fedoras are added fake signatures to boost their selling price at auctions. However, if the hat is fake, then the signature is also necessarily fake.
- The hats feature a black, leather-like paper sweatband with Michael Jackson’s name inscribed on it in matte gold at the exact point where the ribbon bow is placed on the outside. Michael Jackson’s name is inscribed with the same font in all hats. If the font is thinner, the hat is a fake.
- The sweatband is sewn into the hat with yarn using parallel stitches following the direction of its radius. The seam should NOT have an intermittent line pattern. (See picture)
- On the inside of the sweatband, roughly 2 mms from the edge, there is a deep groove. On the back of the sweatband, there is a small sweatband bow.
- The last but most important part of the originality inspection involves intuition. Let’s take the hat into our hands and smell it. Taking into consideration the provenance of the hat, let’s ask the question: is this hat really 20 years old? Are there traces of makeup or hairs in the hat? Does it have a solid provenance? Can you trust the seller or the auction house?
AuctionMemorabilia.com is the best place to sell your authentic Michael Jackson hat at the highest price. Consign your Michael Jackson fedora with us!