In death, there is retail life.
Michael Jackson was an icon, so, somewhere along the way, there will be those who will want to capitalize on his passing.
Drifting through eBay's pages, one sees that many who seem to be bowing their heads in respect may actually be stooping to fairly venal lows.
Take the staggering swiftness of enterprising seller JanisK56, who put a lovely item of memorabilia up for sale Thursday, just before it was confirmed by TMZ that Jackson was no more.
This seller offered, as a one-day special, a 2003 People magazine cover featuring the singer.
Did the cover feature a triumphant world tour? Or perhaps a family reunion? Not quite. The headline is "Did he do it?" and it features an eight-page analysis of child molestation allegations.
"Will Others Come Forward?" asks the cover. Which is what I was wondering when considering who else would want to sell such mindlessly inappropriate memorabilia to people who might be fans. At the time of writing, the leading bid for this cover is $11.50. Which might strike some as $12 too much.
If that doesn't make you feel a touch queasy, several sellers are attempting to capitalize on pristine editions of yesterday's New York Times. Some, like AFlowerandagun, even add lines to remind you why you should spend cash to buy this paper.
"This is a historic day," declares AFlowerandagun's subhead. But is it really so historic and moving a day that you can't help but try to make $15.50 (the leading bid as I write) on a copy of a newspaper?
Then there's Erickdigger, a seller who is offering a "Michael Jackson life mask." Yes, not a death mask, a life mask.
The seller explains: "This started with an actual life cast mask of Michael Jackson. Then it has been sculpturaly (sic) enhanced by me Erick Erickson.The Hair, ears and eyebrows have been added to create a very lifelike display." And he concludes: "It's like having Jacko right there with you."
The price for Jacko's life mask is $44.99.
I fully understand that many people around the world are moved by Jackson's death. But to write a line like "It's like having Jacko there with you" seems tantalizingly insensitive.
Then again, how might fans feel about the "Michael Jackson Poseable Doll"? This seller, Deathcall47 (really) is offering a Jackson doll from the 1980s still in its box. Deathcall47 leaves a note, so that you can be clear what he is feeling.
"1984 MICHAEL JACKSON POSEABLE DOLL A MUST HAVE FOR ANY JACKSON FAN. SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT HIS DEATH. THIS IS A VERY HOT ITEM FOR ANY FAN," he begins. And he concludes with: "YOU WONT BE SORRY WHO KNOW'S (sic) WHAT THIS IS GOING TO BE WORTH."
The leading bid at the time of writing is $250. I wonder if it's a fan or a mere capitalist.
Jackson's death is extremely sad. But isn't there also something a little sad about people who hear about his death and think they can make a few random bucks from it, regardless of what it is they have to sell? All the sellers I have mentioned put the items up for sale either Thursday or Friday.
Of course, one shouldn't be surprised. But one can only hope that fans, in their grief, will distinguish between the valuable, the sincere, the opportunistic and the utterly callous.
It would be interesting to hear what fans might think of the eBay seller named cadzdaman.
He is offering the domain name MJ-IS-DEAD.com.
At least his message is very straightforward: "Domain name to inform those of Michael's tragic death, or can be resold for a profit."
Indeed. The leading bid as of Friday 12:52 p.m. PDT was $0.99.