By Jill Serjeant
BEVERLY HILLS (Reuters) - Contents of the mansion where Michael Jackson's lifeless body was found by convicted killer Dr. Conrad Murray go under the auction hammer next week, closing one chapter on a tragic saga that started in 2009 and ended last month with his former physician behind bars.
Some 500 lots of mostly paintings, furniture and ornaments are for sale from the Bel Air home Jackson rented while preparing for a series of comeback concerts in London. But only a handful of the items bear a poignant but personal connection to the singer, his three children and famous family.
"Even though these weren't items that belonged to him, they were items that surrounded him in the final months of his life. Anything associated with Michael Jackson is highly collectible," said auctioneer Darren Julien.
The ornate headboard on the bed where Jackson's body was found on June 25, 2009 was removed from the December 17 sale last month at the request of Jackson's family.
But the "Thriller" singer did leave his mark on an ornate mirror in the bedroom, scrawling a message in felt pen that reads "Train, perfection March April Full out May" -- presumably a reference to rehearsals for London's "This Is It" concerts set to start that July. The mirror is part of an armoire and carries an estimated sales price of $6-8,000.
"The pieces that are really going to sell for a lot are the items that can be identified as having an association with Michael Jackson, like the armoire in his private bedroom where he handwrote on the mirror," Julien said.
A pottery rooster holding a chalkboard from the kitchen bears a poignant reminder of Jackson's children Prince, Paris and Blanket. A note from the children in chalk reads "I (heart) Daddy SMILE it's for free". The item is priced at $400-600 but is expected to fetch much more.
THE TRIAL OF DR. CONRAD MURRAY
Some rooms at the mansion in the wealthy Los Angeles community where Jackson spent his final days played a role in Murray's trial that ended in November, including the bedroom -- littered with medical paraphernalia -- where Jackson was found not breathing and Murray tried to revive him.
Jackson was officially pronounced dead in a nearby hospital and ruled to have died of an overdose of the powerful surgical anesthetic propofol and sedatives.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, or gross negligence, and sentenced to four years behind bars after admitting he had given Jackson propofol at home to help the singer sleep.
At Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills on Sunday, where the company has re-created several of the mansion's rooms ahead of the sale, a handful of emotional fans left flowers, photos and messages on a plain white platform meant to symbolize the death bed, surrounded by other furniture.
Fighting back tears, some decorated a Christmas tree with heart-shaped ornaments bearing the message "peace," the letters "M" and "J," and festive baubles with photos and lyrics from Jackson's best known songs.
"Christmas was one of Michael Jackson's favorite holidays so this was a way for fans to come together and honor him and memorialize him," said Julien, whose auction house also oversaw the sale of Jackson's Neverland Ranch in central California.
(Editing by Chris Michaud and Bob Tourtellotte)