Panini America Responds to “Disgraceful” Michael Jackson Memorabilia Controversy

I’ll begin with this: Trading card manufacturers have been cutting up superstar-worn memorabilia and sharing it with collectors for more than 15 years now. Frankly, memorabilia cards rank favorably among the most popular and significant trading card innovations of the last 50 years.

I’ll begin with this: Trading card manufacturers have been cutting up superstar-worn memorabilia and sharing it with collectors for more than 15 years now. Frankly, memorabilia cards rank favorably among the most popular and significant trading card innovations of the last 50 years.

Babe Ruth’s jersey has been cut. So has Jim Thorpe’s. And Kobe Bryant’s. And Sidney Crosby’s. Marilyn Monroe’s dress? It’s been cut. John Wayne’s shirt? It’s been cut. I could, quite literally, go on and on and on and on . . .

But when Panini America last week introduced the Official Michael Jackson Trading Card Set (including in its packs randomly inserted cards featuring pieces of clothing Michael wore on stage decades ago), one point became painfully clear: Michael Jackson had never been the subject of a memorabilia card.

The fact that he finally is struck a sour note with some Jackson fans who used various social media venues to voice their displeasure regarding us “destroying his clothes.”

They called the cards “disrespectful,” “disgraceful,” “stupid” – and those are just the adjectives suitable for print.

Clearly, there’s been a huge misunderstanding.

In the interest of full disclosure, know this: The people who worked closest on bringing this set to life (starting at top with CEO Mark Warsop) are lifelong Jackson fans who wanted nothing more than to develop a timeless trading card tribute to Jackson that his fans across the world would cherish. Most of us inside Panini America – and most of the fans we’ve heard from – have received it as exactly that.

Others . . . not so much. 

When we set out to produce the official Jackson set more than 18 months ago (working hand-in-hand with the Jackson estate every step of the way), we did so with a sincere desire to respectfully honor Jackson’s immense legacy and to bring his fans closer to him than they’ve ever been.

Carefully and tastefully sharing pieces of his memorabilia with those folks was simply one unique way of doing that. We also worked diligently in the areas of photo selection and design to create a 240-card tribute that elegantly honors Jackson’s greatest moments, records and achievements.

The fact is that even the most passionate Jackson fans had long since forgotten about these particular pieces of Jackson memorabilia from the 1970s, which we purchased at public auction two years ago. As is the case so many times, these pieces of memorabilia could easily have been purchased by a private collector and tucked away from public view forever, never to be seen – let alone touched – by Jackson’s fans.

Instead, we bought them, carefully deconstructed them and transformed them into bona fide pieces of Jackson history, complete with descriptions on the back detailing exactly when and where the items were worn. You can admire it. You can touch it. And most importantly, you can appreciate it.

That’s why we made it. And that’s exactly what most Jackson fans are doing.

“This has to be the greatest set Panini has ever released,” said YouTube viewer royletlow after watching our video break of the first box. “I have been waiting patiently for this release. I am a big Michael Jackson fan. The world lost the greatest entertainer to have ever lived when he passed. I think it’s great that you guys are giving the fans a way to feel close to Michael. Thank you so much for creating this set. I can’t wait to get my hands on a piece of memorabilia that Michael actually wore.”

Apparently, neither can scores of other Jackson fans. Early sales of the memorabilia cards on the secondary market have been nothing short of thrilling, with some cards commanding more than $200.

“Just knowing that these cards are out there makes my heart feel good and I know that [Michael] would be so proud,” said YouTube user TheBryanSaraShow. “I’ll be happy with just having any of the regular cards. Having a special memorabilia card would make my heart feel happy, because I would own a piece of my idol.”

Michael Jackson cards making his fans’ hearts happy? That’s why we made them.


43 Replies to “Panini America Responds to “Disgraceful” Michael Jackson Memorabilia Controversy”

  1. Pingback: Anonymous
  2. People are hating on Panini America, because it is the BEST! And the Best will always draw critics. Can’t wait till i get my hands on a box.

  3. Tracy, thank you so much for this post! I will definitely be spreading this around the MJ Communities.

    When I saw people posting about how “disrespectful” this is, I honestly didn’t know how to respond. Some Michael fans can be so very sensitive and extreme that sometimes it’s hard to get through to them.
    But, as a different kind of avid fan, I want to say thank you for doing this for all of us! It is giving many of us an opportunity to really feel Michael’s spirit better and connect in a way that wasn’t possible before. I, personally, would rather see Michael’s fans owning little pieces of him than these costumes being in a warehouse or even a museum somewhere. This is an opportunity for those who can’t travel or can’t begin to imagine owning a piece of Michael’s clothes to really be closer to him. I think it is a wonderful idea and I only wish there were more memorabilia cards so more people could experience the closeness that might come with owning, however small, a piece of his clothing. I say thank you so much! And the cards are incredible, truly. Done with real class and respect. I am sure Michael would be proud 🙂 Thank you!

  4. people that are crying DONT collect cards or aren’t in “the hobby” and dont understand it. i say thank you PANINI!

  5. You are so correct Cydney! Some “fans” just go to far. This is a wonderful idea and I’m hoping that I will be able to purchase some soon. Those “fans” that called it “disgusting”…I have a few words for them. IE. “stalkers”, “sexual deviants” (seriously…have you seen some of these “macros” that are sayings inserted on pictures of him…those things shouldn’t even be allowed on here), etc.


  6. The fact is you cut up his legacy. You could have just made recreations and none would be the wiser. This is the problem we have.

    1. Making recreations would have been dishonest; authenticity of relics is of paramount importance in the card collecting community.

      To your point though, there is no shortage of Jackson worn items. A few items used in this manner doesn’t represent a significant decrease in and kind of physical record of his “legacy”. I would think his true legacy is his music, not a few shirts he once wore.

  7. Now keep in mind I am on your side – I believe Michael would have wanted this instead of having them take space in a museum. But also realize since Michael’s death, there is a rift that can never be healed.

  8. From the moment I knew about these cards, I knew I had to have them.
    I’ve been a fan since the age of 6 – now I’m 28…
    How I dreamed of meeting Michael…

    I am now the proud owner of…
    The first thing that I felt holding it, was pure bliss and happiness.
    Its the CLOSEST I’ll ever get to Michael.. Actually having someting that he wore…
    This collection is no doubt something I don’t regret buying!
    It means more to me than my MJ Opus.
    For all those ‘fans’ that claim those things….
    Please stop. Michael was all about making us, his fans, happy. And making us feel loved.
    Wich is exactly how I feel each and every time I check out my MJ Panini cards!


  9. You know this really looks good. Especially the design. I have nothing to complain about. Great Job and a Great way to honor his legacy.

  10. A replulsive and belligerent response.

    I can assure you this will not be backed by fans and you will have a battle on your hands.

    This is nothing short of commercial vandalism and this organization should hang their heads in shame.

  11. I want to say that I have been supportive of the Estate’s efforts on Michael’s behalf; ‘Michael’ Cirque ‘This is It’….however, when I read about these cards
    I was dumbfounded. How could anyone imagine that cutting up pieces of Michael’s history so each person could have a piece of him was an honor? Are you kidding?
    To my fragile, over sensitive self….I actually do take offense to this idea,
    however well meaning it might have been. It tells me that someone doesn’t quite
    get the similarity between Mr. Jackson’s person, lifestyle choices, home and
    even his music being horribly dissected and ridiculed throughout his life…now
    he continues to be sliced and diced, put in small cards and sold…sorry, just
    do not support this…the Estate gets a freebe here…Hopefully, a similar
    error in judgement does not occur again.

  12. Wasn’t this the initial reaction back when the first Babe Ruth jersey was cut up? Since then, collectors have calmed down on the issues surrounding worn memorabilia. As you stated, since this is the first Michael Jackson product on the market it will definitely bring out some emotions from the recently departed superstar. As time heals those who are still emotional about their hero leaving us early, these types of responses will slow down. And no, I don’t think it was too early for a tribute set. Actually, I think it was too late and should of been made while he was alive.

    One question, when can we expect Panini America to put dates an item was worn on all memorabilia cards across the product spectrum? It shouldn’t be that difficult and I believe would make your memorabilia a step above other companies that don’t provide such information.

  13. It is obvious that there are many people who don’t appreciate having the ability to own a peice of history. Before items like these have been cut up, I always wanted to own an event worn (baseball players jersey), concert worn ( ALWAYS wanted the “Glitter Glove” since I was a child), or something somebody famous (Al Capone’s gun) (I am a histoy buff) item. Now companies like Panini can help me on my quest on owning history. There is no way in the world, before now, could I’ve own anything that someone famous has worn or owned. I truly appreciate history, not just because I am a collector, but because I love and can own history. Can’t wait until somebody make available to the public some gold coins from a ship wreck. Man, what I would give to own that!

  14. I think Messrs. Hackler and Warsop are wrong. Just because other celebrities have had their clothing cut up doesn’t mean Michael Jackson’s fans will embrace this practice. I don’t think they will. Time will tell.

  15. I actually don’t like it that historical items are cut up so we can own scraps of them. Cutting up a Babe Ruth jersey is silly. Next we will be cutting up historical paintings so we can own a piece.

    1. it’s not like its the thriller jacket. how many items of clothing have you worked in within your lifetime? lots. i collect memorabilia and love mj so these cards are awesome. go Panini, keep doin that voodoo that you do so well.

  16. Everything you said here is great… but you’re missing the most important part.

    Those clothes belong to the children. I don’t care if Panini contacted the Estate (not surprised though they didn’t care about Michael, they never did), Michael’s children should be the owners of all of his father’s memorabilia.

    As simple as that.

    1. You’re wrong. Just because Michael wore it, doesn’t mean he owns it. DO you think MJ had a closet with every outfir he wore for the last 40 years?

    2. I completely understand some of MJ’s fans feeling the way they do. It’s a delicate balance we had to take. The reality is someone else acquired those items and put them up for auction and made a considerable profit – none of which Michael or his children profited from.

      We (Panini) purchased that clothing at auction for the sole purpose of delivering it back to fans – even if it is a small relic & presented it in a way that we hope MJ would feel was giving a piece to as many fans as possible. And oh yeah, his kids & estate benefits everytime someone buys a pack of MJ cards. That’s the reality. The more successful this product is, the more his children benefit. There are other trading card companies that would have attempted to do this non- licensed and that would not have been in MJ’s or his children’s interest. Fundamentally, we felt that working with his Estate, where his children would stand to benefit was the way to go. There is no question the King of Pop left us too early – many people besides his true fans like us failed to appreciate him when he was alive.

  17. I remember the American Bandstand appearance that Hayat has a piece from, and many of the early appearances of Michael and the J5. This early legacy is so historic that I hoped there might be a museum showcasing these outfits from Motown some day. Young Michael was pulled, pushed, and poked by fans as a young boy, and unfairly persecuted by the media and exploited much of his adult life. Something about this whole thing just feels wrong and in poor taste to me. The Estate made a mistake allowing this to happen. Just because some people want them, doesn’t mean it was a good thing to do. It just seems like a greedy idea and another American exploitation of Michael Jackson.

  18. Michael Jackson isn’t just a “pop star” with fans who collect pop culture memorabilia. Jackson is an historical figure– he is from the Black First Family and the first black artist in America to break through racial barriers, to blend music, to appeal to people of all ages, across cultures and countries– to all parts of the world. He was the first entertainer to use his platform to raise money for the poor, starving and sick– a true and natural global humanitarian and philanthropist. He united people at a time when the world desperately needed it and no political figure was able to pull it off. He was a freedom fighter and had an important message for the world– we are the world, heal the world, save the children and save the planet. His costumes should not be cut up and peddled on an open market for profit. Wasn’t there enough of cutting this man into pieces for profit while he was alive? This treatment is in very poor taste. He deserved better.

  19. We are here.
    We will not dine on Michael’s bones.
    MJ’s true fans will see right through this latest cash grab.

  20. If anyone actually believes the “defenders of Panini” entries on this page are valid users, they need to reduce their dosage. Fast.

    These are Panini staff masquerading as bloggers.

    How do I know? Ask yourself this:

    In a world where trade and GDP deficits jostle for face time with staggering natural disasters and the endless debate over health care — would anyone BUT interested parties i.e Panini and the Estate fans click on this site?


    Don’t be fooled. This is commercial rape and no-one with any shred of decency will go near this disgraceful vandalism. The Estate should have bought these items when they were at auction and given them to MJ’s children or displayed them as part of the travelling MJ tour which already exists.

    1. I am not a Panini employee and am in no way shape or form affiliated with them!!!!

      People who are going crazy over this are people that just want something to argue over.
      What Panini did was give every single MJ fan on earth a chance to own something special.
      For example I am now 22 years old and in college,I have been a Dan Marino and football fan since I was 5 and in Kinder garden.Now I can’t afford to buy a game used Marino jersey or fly to Miami meet him and get an Auto,but I can collect memorabilia cards an autographs of him and every other football player in the country and I THANKYOU for giving me that chance. Panini is the biggest sports card and memorabilia company on earth,they are experts on making products people want to buy….if people didnt want to buy the MJ cards then I am sure they wouldn’t exist.
      Cutting up items of clothing is NOT cutting up any legacy,I am not famous,rich nor do I have millions of fans worldwide and even at that if you cut up my clothing and sold it in cards it would not be taking away my legacy.
      I mean really do some people just always have to point a finger at somebody and complain about EVERYTHING? If you love michael then why don’t you embrace the fact that you can own something he wore?I mean do you honestly think all million items of clothing he owned need to be in a museum?
      If you do not like that they are being made then do not buy them but don’t try and take away the opportunity for the logical people that would like to own them.

  21. This is a new business deal pure and simple (well, perhaps not pure but certainly simple). Michael Jackson (dead) remains big business — whether it’s unreleased songs, videos, tee-shirts, auctions of his possessions (including his crushed mailbox), Opus (a formidable book complete with white gloves to keep the pages clean), trading cards with bits of clothing, Cirque de Soleil Eternal Michael Jackson Tour, and other profitable enterprises. It’s not the first deal and it won’t be the last.

    I feel queasy about these cards, but also know many will buy, enjoy having a memento of the King of Pop and the memories of what he meant to them. No one would begrudge that. For me, Michael Jackson lives and rests in his beautiful music, the two books he wrote, a few large photographs (from a friend), and a live concert I witnessed on September 10, 2001. So, I’m not good prospect for the blooming and booming Jackson memorabilia industry.

    As for money-making, President Calvin Coolidge said it best, “The Business of America is Business.”

  22. Seems to me there were a number of cogent comments regarding this marketing
    endeavor that politely disagreed with selling ‘pieces’ of Michael Jackson, clothing
    or not. These worthwhile remarks appear to have been moderated right out of the
    discussion. If this one is allowed, I reiterate that I have supported the Estate in
    everything they have done so far….except condoning this company for cutting up
    and selling ‘pieces’ of Jackson. The man was literally and figuratively carved up
    by the media for most of his adult life….his person, life style choices, voice, appearance
    and even his music. This idea just does not sit right with me. And no, I am not a
    overly sensitive, radical fan; not by a longshot. I don’t particularly care if similar
    items for other artists/celebrities were sold in this manner. Mr. Jackson is different.
    Sorry, don’t agree with this one.

  23. you cut up legendary uniforms of the babe, jim thorpe, the iron horse & cobb. stuff that can never be replaced. but how about some proper GU stuff of the guys still playing today. the wording on the back of GU cards has become very vague, to the point that we cant be sure the player even wore the thing.
    and to the jackson fans who dont like/collect cards? the ones who would rather see the clothing preserved not destroyed for a small % of MJ card collectors?
    another panini statement that doesnt really say anything but ‘we’ll do what we want’.

  24. This is a bogus page, designed to ” wear out” fan fury.

    This is nothing less than commercial vandalism and the jackals behind this deal know it.


    1. There’s no wearing out my fury, don’t worry. I see the fabric cards from Michael’s cut up clothing all over Ebay already for other “collectors” to make a tidy profit from. 🙁 No end in sight to the exploitation of Michael Jackson. 🙁

  25. Good luck selling these. A boycott is now in effect and this has done irreparable damage to the esteem the fans held the Estate in — despite the recent reports by Forbes.

    I am literally running out of adjectives for the degree of contempt I hold this venture in — and all those who partake in it.

    1. I’m sure they don’t need you to wish them luck to sell these cards.
      I am literally running out of adjectives for the degree of annoyance people like you cause.
      Cry Cry Cry can you do anything thats not of the sort?
      If you want to protest something why don’t you use your time to do something worthwhile.
      Get our troops brought home,get the cost of college tuition brought down do something positive.
      Don’t try and ruin something special for fans that are logical.
      and again I am in no way shape form or fashion affiliated with Panini America.

  26. Michael Jackson never had a problems “exploiting his legacy”, so why should Panini? Seriously, you Michael Jackson fans who are up in arms about it I suggest you do the following – if you truly believe that Michael Jackson was a great humanitarian, instead of spending time babbling on like a bunch of fifth graders, spend the time actually helping people like your “hero” (and I use the term sarcastically) supposedly (deliberate choice of words) did.

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