Opportunists looking to profit off of Whitney Houston’s sudden death February 11 may have reached a new low. The pop superstar was only laid to rest last Sunday, but in truly tacky form, celebrity auctioneer Darren Julien felt it was the right day to announce that items worn by Houston would go to auction March 31 and April 1.
Julien said that a black velvet dress (valued at $1,000) owned by Houston, along with a pair of faux pearl drop earrings (listed at $600) and a satin vest ($400) the singer wore in “The Bodyguard,” and other items recently became available after she unexpectedly died. The pieces are expected to sell for much more than their listed prices. The long-planned “Hollywood Legends” sale of celebrity memorabilia will also include Charlie Chaplin’s cane, Clark Gable’s jacket from “Gone With the Wind,” and the staff Charlton Heston used in “The Ten Commandments.”
"It's a celebration of her life," Julien told the Associated Press. "If you hide these things in fear that you're going to offend someone – her life is to be celebrated. These items are historic now that she passed. They become a part of history. They should be in museums. She's lived a life and had a career that nobody else has ever had."
It’s not that the items owned by Houston should be hidden in fear of offending somebody. It’s more about waiting out of respect for the deceased and her family before trying to capitalize off the star. Coincidentally, Julien’s Auctions stumbled on the same luck in 2009, when Michael Jackson ephemera was scheduled to go to auction less than 24 hours after he died on June 25. But unlike the Houston objects, the sale of the Jackson items had been arranged prior to his death. Elizabeth Taylor’s estate didn’t go to auction at Christie’s until nine months after her death.
Julien’s Auctions isn’t the only company that's raised a few eyebrows in the past week-and-a-half. Sony Music U.K. increased the price of Houston albums on U.K. iTunes for several hours after her death, but has since apologized, blaming it on an employee error. Journalist Dan McDermott accused Netflix of trying to make money by removing “The Bodyguard” from its streaming selections when a representative allegedly told him that the studio had the film pulled from the service in the wake of Houston's passing. McDermott retracted his accusation after Netflix said that the film hasn’t been available for streaming since its license was lost last year, and that it has nothing to do with the singer’s death.
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