Janet Jackson Memorabilia Auction Tracks Artist’s Decades-Long Career

James Ardis
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Janet Jackson being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Photo by Michael Loccisano for Getty Images.
Janet Jackson being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Photo by Michael Loccisano for Getty Images.

Janet Jackson’s brothers were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 as the Jackson 5. Despite her own substantial success, Janet Jackson was in awe of her brothers. “I was always crashing their rehearsals; I was always tagging along, always with my brothers,” she remembered years later. She was doing more than tagging along, though, building a career few could match. In 2019, it was her turn to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “Tonight, your baby sister has made it,” she declared in her enshrinement speech.

An upcoming Julien’s Auctions event will feature numerous outfits and accolades from Janet Jackson’s career as a musician and actress. The catalog also offers a look into the items that brought her comfort in her limited downtime, from porcelain dolls (lot #11; estimate: USD 100 – $150) to a Virtua Cop 2 arcade machine (lot #23; estimate: $300 – $500).

Auction Daily takes a look back at Janet Jackson’s life and career ahead of the sale.

Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation World Tour, 1990 

By 1990, Janet Jackson had broken records with her third and fourth studio albums. Control, her third record, produced five Top 5 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, the first time any woman artist had accomplished this. Her next album, Rhythm Nation: 1814, would do even better with seven Top 5 singles, a first for any artist. Janet Jackson’s most political album to that point, Rhythm Nation: 1814 would also prove to be incredibly evergreen, becoming the first album to produce a No. 1 single in three different years. After years of waiting, it was finally time for Janet Jackson to headline her first tour.

Coat worn by Janet Jackson during the Rhythm Nation World Tour. Photo by Julien’s Auctions.
Coat worn by Janet Jackson during the Rhythm Nation World Tour. Photo by Julien’s Auctions.

Coming to auction this month is a black coat worn by Janet Jackson during the Rhythm Nation World Tour (lot #92; estimate: $4,000 – $6,000). Designed by Richard Tyler, Jackson wore the coat at the top of every set to perform “Control” and “Nasty,” two of the most well-known singles off her third album.

The Rhythm Nation World Tour was not a light introduction to headlining for Janet Jackson. The 131-show tour stretched across ten months and three continents, including two separate trips to Japan. Despite grossing over $28 million and earning very positive reviews, critics were quick to compare Janet Jackson to her brother. “The tour, her first after 16 years in show business, does not present a serious threat to brother Michael,” said Sun Sentinel music writer Deborah Wilker at the end of a mostly positive review.

“Poetic Justice” and Oscar Night for Janet Jackson, 1994

Among the top lots in the upcoming Julien’s Auctions event is a pantsuit and matching boots worn by Janet Jackson to the 1994 Academy Awards (lot #985; estimate: $2,000 – $3,000). Richard Tyler, the same celebrity designer behind the available Rhythm Nation World Tour coat, created the pantsuit. The boots come from French shoe manufacturer Stephane Kélian.

Pantsuit and shoes worn by Janet Jackson to the 1994 Academy Awards. Photo by Julien’s Auctions.
Pantsuit and shoes worn by Janet Jackson to the 1994 Academy Awards. Photo by Julien’s Auctions.

That year, Janet Jackson’s “Again” from the Poetic Justice soundtrack was nominated for Best Original Song. Jackson not only contributed to the soundtrack, but she also co-starred in the film with Tupac Shakur. After recurring roles on television shows like Good Times and Diff’rent Strokes, Poetic Justice was Jackson’s first foray into movies. Critics panned the film’s writing, and the project lived in the shadows of writer-director John Singleton’s previous outing, Boyz n the Hood (1991). But most critics agreed that Shakur and Jackson, assisted by poems from Maya Angelou, brought a powerful star quality to the production.

Janet Jackson wore the available ensemble to perform “Again” live at the Academy Awards, surrounded by candles. Jackson’s appearance was filled with the excitement and awkwardness typical of Oscar Night, including a slightly confusing introduction by Whoopi Goldberg: “Here is a woman who looks and sounds like me when she’s having a very, very bad day… not! Janet Jackson!”

Awards From 2001 to 2019 

The 2000s were a decade of contradictions for Janet Jackson. Another stretch of certified platinum records such as All for You and Damita Jo solidified her legacy. Meanwhile, she was disproportionately punished for a mistake made during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show compared to fellow performer Justin Timberlake. Also, continued allegations against her brother, Michael Jackson, once again brought to light the unhealthy pressure placed on the family of entertainers during their childhood.

Representing Janet Jackson’s early 2000s career in the Julien’s Auctions sale is an ensemble worn by the artist to the 2001 MTV Icon event in her honor (lot #479; estimate: $3,000 – $5,000). The outfit includes white Levi’s jeans with rips at the knees and an asymmetrical leather jacket.

Ensemble worn by Janet Jackson to the MTV Icon event in her honor. Photo by Julien’s Auctions.
Ensemble worn by Janet Jackson to the MTV Icon event in her honor. Photo by Julien’s Auctions.

The televised event, part of a larger annual series that honored other stars, looked back at Janet Jackson’s career to that point. R&B artist Aaliyah was among the presenters, just six months before she tragically died in an airplane crash. Outkast, Destiny’s Child, Usher, and others performed, capped off by Janet Jackson singing “All for You.” 

Eighteen years later, it was time for Janet Jackson to join her brothers in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Collectors interested in the event can bid on the gown Janet Jackson wore to the induction ceremony (lot #1305; estimate: $4,000 – $6,000). Brown feathers and slits break up the floor-length black gown. It also comes with the gloves and boots Jackson wore during the ceremony.

Gown worn by Janet Jackson to her induction ceremony at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Photo by Julien’s Auctions.
Gown worn by Janet Jackson to her induction ceremony at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Photo by Julien’s Auctions.

The Iconic Treasures sale from Julien’s Auctions begins on Friday, May 14th at 1:00 PM EDT. Lots will come to auction in six different sessions between the start time and May 16th at 4:00 PM EDT. View each of the lots and register to bid on the Julien’s Auctions website.

Want to learn more about pop culture and the auction industry? Auction Daily recently looked back at the career of movie poster artist John Alvin ahead of a Heritage Auctions event.

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James Ardis
James Ardis
Senior Writer and Editor

James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

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