The glove is considered the "Holy Grail of Michael Jackson memorabilia" by auctioneer Darren Julien of Julien's Auctions, which is putting it up for sale alongside some other unique music collectibles, including early Madonna demo tapes, unreleased Jimi Hendrix lyrics and items from Bob Dylan, Elvis, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin.
Unlike the many other shiny gloves Jackson wore over the years, which were right-handed and covered with hand-sewn crystals, the Motown special glove was for the left hand and was a modified, store-bought glove covered with rhinestones. The one-of-a-kind keepsake, expected to go for between $40,000-$60,000, has been in the hands of founding Commodores member Walter "Clyde" Orange, who received it from Jackson the night he wore it. In a letter accompanying the glove, Orange describes how he came to have it and his friendship with Jackson over the years.
The pair got to know each other in the 1970s, when the Commodores toured with the Jackson 5. Orange said Jackson would always turn down his requests for autographs and that turned into a running joke between them. "In his humble way, he refused to give me his autograph, saying that I was more famous than he was," Orange writes. "He never did give me his autograph."
When they met up again in March 1983, during the Motown special taping, Jackson sang with his brothers and took the stage alone to unveil the moonwalk while performing "Billie Jean." Afterwards, Orange said, "Michael came up behind me and put his hand over my eyes and said, 'Guess who?' I knew who it was because I felt the one glove on his left hand and no glove on the other. When I once again asked him for his autograph, Michael gave me the glove he wore that night instead, still refusing to give me his autograph! He was always a real prankster, even as a little boy, so I asked him if he was serious about giving me the glove, and he assured me that he was."
When Jackson died on June 25 at the age of 50 following cardiac arrest, Orange said he decided the glove was too important a historical item to hold onto. "Remember, it was not yet a trademark for him," said Orange, 62. "Whenever I saw him after that, I teased that I would return the glove in exchange for his autograph, but he always refused, telling me to keep the glove and then, jokingly, asking for my autograph. I have taken very good care of this glove since that historic night at Motown 25, and Michael and his family will always have a special place in my heart."
Speaking to The Associated Press, Orange added, "There's 100 other gloves out there, but this is the one you want. ... He blew up after that [performance] with 'Billie Jean.' ... The world should see this. This is the first. That's the song that made him shoot through the roof as a superstar."
Orange hopes the glove will end up at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or another historical institution, and he said he's happy the proceeds from the sale will benefit the MusiCares Foundation, which helps musicians struggling with substance abuse. Other Jackson items going under the gavel at the event include a fedora the singer wore onstage at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, zombie costumes from the "Thriller" video, a costume from Jackson's final United States concert in April 2002, and a signed and stage-worn "Bad" jacket.