February 14, 2011
After years of blogging about him, I got the chance to make
an interview with Henry Vaccaro, the former owner of the biggest
Jackson Family memorablia. A story from the man who's life was
hardly affected by the Jackson's and the collection. <
Q: As it's well known amongst the fans you get ahold of the
Jackson Family memorablia on a bankrupcy court, as a result
of a failed business venture with the family. What was your
first feeling when you realised that you own the biggest Jackson
Family memorablia on the world?
A: I was totally shocked when we started unpacking two 65 feet
trailers of memorabilia. It took several months to unpack and
catalog, I was amazed at the amount of very personal items that
the Jackson's had stored in that warehouse. In fact I felt that
I violated this family. Some of the items included bank account
deposit books, personal letters, legal documents, divorce papers,
birth certificates, school records, personal family photos,
etc. No one including me should have another family's very personal
property. I never wanted this property only my money. I lost
the Kramer Guitar Co. which in 1988 was the most popular guitar
in the US with sales of $18 million dollars as the Jackson's
defaulted on the purchase contract. I personally flew to California
to met Tito where I offered to give everything back. I suggested
we all go on a TV show make up with his family, and I would
give everything back for nothing, I would in turn get my money
from the sponsor. His lawyer refused. Q: What were your initial
plans with the memorablia? And what could you realise over the
A: My initial plans were to sell the collection in its entirety
as I felt it would bring the most money. At first I thought
it was worth several million dollars but only got bogus offers.
Q: Is it close to the truth that you didn't do much with the
items over the years from a business point of view?
A: After not being able to get real offers, as you may recall
Michael's value was at it's lowest in those years because of
his legal problems, I then decided to do a Pay Per View web
site displaying the collection. In 2005 Michael sued me, my
son, Vintage Pop, and MichaelJacksonSecretVault.com for One
Hundred Million Dollars, hired a high power law firm and shut
down the web site. I won the suite as it was dismissed with
Q: According to the media reports you have added some more Michael
Jackson items to the collection in 2007 bought on a Las Vegas
auction. What was your motivation with that move?
A: Not true, I sold the entire collection to a public corporation,
called Universal Express they held the Las Vegas auction which
I attended when I saw the bid's so low on what I knew were very
valuable items I bought some back. The problem is the owner
of Universal Express turned out to be a con artist, and was
thrown in jail by the Security Exchange Commission. The SEC
appointed a Receiver and Universal Express was liquidated. I
was never paid. I filled suit against the Auction House, Universal
Express, and the Receiver. A settlement was reached the terms
of which can not be disclosed by court order. However I was
allowed to recover all the unsold items.
Q: Did you buy or add other items to the collection over the
Q: As the media reported you are on court with a man named Benson
Hopp, because he and his partners stoled some items from the
collection. Could you get back those items? Did any memorablia
disappear over the years?
A: Some of the item that I was to get back were stored in a
warehouse in Las Vegas these were the unsold auction items.
When I went to the warehouse over 116 items of Michael's were
stolen and sold to Benson Hopp who in turn consigned them to
Heritage Auction Co. We put Heritage on notice that the items
were stolen we are now in court in Dallas, I believe that all
items will be returned to me. I am sure many items have disappeared
over the years.
Q: What was the most serious and the weirdest offer you got
regarding the collection over the years?
A: The most serious offer came from Howard Mann, I must have
entertained hundreds of offers some from Europe some from the
Far East. I even hired several agents over the years one who
claimed to have a $40,000,000 offer other in the $20,000,000
range. You name them I met with them.
Q: According to some sources you have sold the items recently
to Howard Mann. Is it true? Did you keep any of the items?
A: Yes the entire collection was sold to Howard Mann. I kept
some of the items.
Q: Do you have any connection with Mr. Mann and any of his entities?
Mann created companies with names that are very similar to yours.
As well he is using the same lawyer as you did.
A: Yes my family and I own a small percentage of the new entities
in California. These entities have the same name to allow them
protection under the dismissal of Michael Jackson 2005 law suite
which was dismissed with prejudice. That means you cannot be
sued again for the same thing. Edgar Pease is a fine lawyer
he did represent me in the 2005 lawsuit. He knows all the facts
that is probably why Howard Mann hired him.
Q: What do you think about the recent court case between the
Michael Jackson Estate and Mr. Mann?
A: I think the lawsuit will be dismissed by the court.
Q: How do you feel about the things said or written about you
in the media or on the fan forums?
A: Sometimes the nasty comments get to me but i'm sure the fan's
are acting out of their love for Michael. Nothing that I did
was personal it was only business. I would like to ask the fans
what they would do if in my shoes. The year is 1991, I was a
major developer and general contractor in my home state of New
Jersey, I was 51 years old. My father died in 1959 at age 51,
I was 19, I quit college and started a construction business
from scratch, worked 7 days a week built the business to one
of the largest construction firms in the state, building schools,
hospitals, Hi-Rise apartments, and hotels. In 1985, I formed
a joint venture to develop my home town of Asbury Park NJ. The
value of that project was $1 Billion Dollars. The economy went
bad in late 80's. My joint venture partner went bankrupt and
took me with him. I owned a 256 room hotel in Asbury Park, Johnny
Cash, my closest friend was one of my partners, the hotel then
failed and went bankrupt. These events forced me into personal
bankruptcy and I lost everything, including my Home, three Motels,
Office Building, hotel,and a 12 building Industrial Park all
toll assets of over $80 million, everything I worked my whole
life for was gone. The only thing my family had left was H.V.V.
Corp which owned Kramer Guitar Co as the stock was owned by
my son and daughter and not subject to my personal bankruptcy.
Going back to 1976 I was the original investor in Kramer Guitar
Co I eventually became Chairman of the Board. Kramer grew so
fast that by the late 80's it was the hottest guitar in the
country, played and endorsed by Eddie Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Hank
Williams Jr, Twisted Sister on and on. We made a custom guitar
for Tito Jackson and Kramer was used on The Victory Tour. In
1989 Kramer was sold to a investment group they defaulted on
a bank loan and H.V.V. corp purchased the assets from the bank,
and tried to revitalize the Kramer Brand. However a dispute
with the bank over the ownership of some trademarks forced H.V.V.
corp into a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. In 1991, while in Bankruptcy
H.V.V. won it's suit against the bank and was then approached
by the Jackson Family through their newly established corporation
called Jackson Communications Inc. to purchase,and fund the
Plan of Reorganization for H.V.V.corp. which would lead to J.C.I.
owning Kramer. Part of the deal was that I would sit on the
Advisory Board of Directors of J.C.I. In 1992 I attended a Board
meeting lasting 4 days held at the family home, Havenhurst,
in Encino. I met the entire family except Michael. That Plan
of Reorganization was approved by the Court. J.C.I. made the
first payment and then defaulted and made no other payments.
The Court converted H.V.V. to a Chapter 7 and sold the assets
at auction I got NOTHING. I am now completely broke. So I filed
suite against J.C.I. and was awarded a judgment of $1.4 million
J.C.I. claimed they had no assets, the Federal Judge allowed
me to pierce the corporate vail and personal judgments were
entered against all stockholders that could be served. We could
never serve Michael, Janet or Jackie, my lawyer was not concerned
as he figured we could easily collect $1.4 million from the
rest of the family. After losing everything in a personal bankruptcy
and then getting screwed out of the last thing your family own's
meaning the Guitar Company is a bitter pill to swallow. So I
fought Back. Like any reasonable person in my shoes would have
done, nothing personal just business.
Q: Did you ever meet with Michael Jackson? What do you think
A: No I never met Michael but I feel like I know him from seeing
many of his personal effects. You could tell how talented he
was just by some of his writings and drawings which I had the
privilege to see and touch.I wish that I could have met him
because I believe that we could have resolved our problems.
Instead this team of lawyers got involved and really came after
me .I must tell you this, that by 1993 I was so broke that at
the deposition of Joe Jackson I offered to settle my $1.4 million
dollar judgment for a quick payment of $100 thousand dollars.
The family lawyer say's "I'm here to make sure that you
get nothing". That attitude is what kept me going...
I still don't understand how did you come to have MIchael
Jackson belonging if he was not a part of the suit?
This is what a question most fans are asking,
And why don't you give it back to his children know that he
Your items ended up to the hands of a filthy tabloid reporter
who made her fantasies out of them. That's hoe the old Michael
Jackson fans will remember it.
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