On the whole, I avoid picking on celebrities, because they are cheap targets and no one can possibly get paid enough to put up with the fame crap.

That said, there’s Michael Jackson.

I thought you’d enjoy seeing this link to the auction of his worldly goods, including this memorable work which proves that money can’t buy good taste:


I admire the technical proficiency of the painting, but WHO THE HELL BUYS SOMETHING LIKE THIS!?!?!

And you know he paid through the nose for it, so to speak.

My guess is he paid at least $50,000 to a portrait painter for it, so with an auction estimate of $8,000, no bargain there.

Then again, Jackson was notorious for not paying clients. Science fiction artist Michael Whelan said in interviews that he had a devil of a time getting Jackson’s people to pay up on the big bill for the art to a cover painting Whelan had created for one of Jackson’s albums. I’d love to link, but the interview is in an old fanzine: Interzone, I believe.

Jackson’s money people declared that Whelan should be flattered to do art for Jackson, and that the publicity would be good for Whelan’s career. Why should he expect to get paid?

Whelan did eventually collect on the debt.

Great pics of Jackson’s goodies at that article. I know someone who would love that Superman figure.

Here’s another article about lifestyles of the rich and stupid, saved from the old message board, “Mark Twain’s Quest for Bling”:

America’s most beloved writer, the man who brought us Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, spent most of his life on a wild quest for big bucks, investing in schemes, and oddball inventions. While writing satires that sneered at the Gilded Age uber rich, Mark Twain gave every indication that he would very much like to be one of them, and his harebrained plots usually left him broke. (EDIT: The original link to the quotes here have disappeared, but I’ve found another great article to replace it. Enjoy!)

“While Clemens expressed satisfaction with his writing and tended to crack himself up with his own humor, he measured his success by his personal production and income,” Krass writes…

“It would be fair to say that he probably would not have necessarily decided to earn his living as a writer unless he had failed as a silver miner,” Fishkin said, but “he learned things from all of his experiences and adventures that came in handy when he wrote.”

Perhaps the uncertain nature of the writer’s life helps to exacerbate this problem. Or maybe Mark Twain was just a little too much Tom Sawyer.

Get-rich-quick delusional behavior gets even worse if one actually has had some measure of success in one’s career.
Some seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to chase down that magic formula that will repeat that success. The minute money comes in, they blow it. They live beyond their means, trying to impress their friends with how successful they are.

When income was sparse, one acquaintance (not in comics) lied his way into getting a wholesaler account with a manufacturing company, and then began selling the goods online for tidy profits. The requirement was that the account go to retailers with storefronts: he had no store, he was simply reselling on ebay.

This went well for a time, and he earned thousands of dollars in a matter of months, every single penny of which he blew in 120 days by indulging in high living. Dining out alone accounted for $6,000 of expenditures. Someone who earns $1,000 a month as a writer has no business spending $6,000 on food.

To make matters worse, he went on to lose a small fortune on those goods he was selling, because by then everyone had gotten into the online sales scheme he was running and suddenly he had huge competition. He was stuck with loads of inventory, much of which he had to sell at a loss.

This was just one in a series of bad moves. Financial planning? Retirement accounts? Mutual funds? Forget it. Some people are entitled to be rich. Smart people shouldn’t have to work hard!

What happened to the guy? We dunno. This was years ago, and while he generously shared his cautionary tale for my blog, he seems to have disappeared off the radar since.

This sense of entitlement is usually accompanied by utter contempt for people who actually do have money as well as an inordinate fondness of celebrity proximity. Duck and run when these people get anywhere near an actor. They whip out their cameras with such speed you can hear a sonic boom.


PS: This may or may not be related: Steve Geppi, Diamond Comic Distributor boss, experiencing financial woes, including unpaid back rent on his pop culture museum.

There is no © info on that painting that I could see. But I am sure it is © somebody. Maybe Jackson’s Estate? Dunno.