Interview with Henry Vaccaro

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.

Below you may read the whole material (leave your comments to Mr. Vaccaro by clicking on the Comments link under):

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 years?
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 prejudice.

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 years?
A: No.

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 about him?
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...

(leave your comments to Mr. Vaccaro by clicking on the Comments link under)


Bridgett_361 said...

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 is dead?

Michael Jackson: And Justice for Some said...

Hi Mr. Vaccarro,

I recently blogged about your relationship with the Jackson family, JCI and the Jackson memorabilia. I have a couple of questions, but I'll limit it to one for now.

In 1996, Judge William Gindin awarded you approximately $1.4 million against the Jacksons when your agreement with the Jackson family to purchase Kramer Guitar was not fulfilled. However, from what I've read, Judge Gindin did NOT include Michael, Janet or LaToya Jackson in the judgement because they never received any dividends from JCI.

In 1999, you sought and received a court order to open the storage facilities, yet could not take any of Michael or Janet's possessions. Yet ultimately, the judge ordered that ALL possessions would be sold to you for $85,000.

My question is this: Why would this judge allow Michael and Janet's possessions to be auctioned to the highest bidder, when Judge Gindin ordered that their possessions were NOT to be included in the original lawsuit?

Michael Jackson said...

Could we expect to hear unreleased music from your vault ?
Could you name songs ?

thank you

Rational said...

Wow, that is awesome! congrats!

june said...

Hello Mr. Vaccaro, your attorney, Pease, filed legal docs in early 2005 in the SB criminal case, asking for return, to you, by Thomas Sneddon of certain items of Michael Jackson's (claimed to be owned by you), which Sneddon had come into possession of in 2004. So my question is: did you turn over to Mr. Sneddon, in 2004, or at any other time, either willingly or as a result of subpoena, any of Michael Jackson's personal possessions from the storage lockers? If so, may I ask what items were given to DA Sneddon?

BigBad Henry said...

Bridgett,Great Question When the warehouse which was leased by Tito was seized.the US Marshall would not allow any of or MJ's or Janet's personal property to be removed.The removed memorabilia was taken to a bonded warehouse in Oxnard.Before I could auction it off Mr &Mrs Jackson,Tito ,Jermain,Randy, Marlon and Rebee filed for bankruptcy. Under the Law I had to give everything back. A trustee was appointed who took control of both warehouses. Con't

Anonymous said...

Mr. Vaccaro,

It is my understanding that the HenryVaccaro youtube account which showed some bazaar videos of MJ was not really yours by seeing your real youtube account MrHenryVaccaro. How come you did not take action to take the fake one down?


Anonymous said...

Awesome post. Do you mind if I ask what your source is for this information?

Anonymous said...

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.

BigBad Henry said...

June After word got out about my collection I received a visit from the Prosecutors office with subpoena. I complied. Items taken were items of MJ's clothing, personal notes and photos.

BigBad Henry said...

June After the word got out about my collection two detectives from Sneddons office showed up with a subpoena to go through all the memorabilia I complied. They took a item of MJ's clothing ,photos and some hand written notes.

BigBad Henry said...

Anonymous,That was a phony Youtube posting we contacted Youtube and attempted to shut it down they would not comply. My only option was to hire another lawyer and incur more legal fees.By now I am sick of lawyers.

LeslieMJHu said...


Im posting an answer from Mr. Vaccaro to a previous post:

"Bridgett, Great Question,After the family refused to pay me I hired a detective who found a warehouse leased to Tito in Oxnard. It was seized by US Marshall's who removed everything except property that could be MJ's on Janet's. It was taken to a bonded warehouse and inventoried.Before I could sell It Mr & Mrs Jackson,Tito Jermain ,Randy, Marlon and Rebee Filed for bankruptcy,under the law I had to give everything back.A trustee was appointed to take over the debtors assets. That meant that both warehouses were under his control. In the papers filed under oath the debtors swore that they were not holding property for any third party Like MJ or Janet. To hide the true value of the warehouse contents it was listed as Household contents worth $5,000,00 ,on their Bankruptcy Papers.The Judge issued a order for any third party Like MJ or Janet, to file a claim of ownership if they had any interest. THEY DID NOT FILE ANY CLAIM OF OWNERSHIP. Before the warehouse seizure MJ filed a claim of ownership on two Rolls Royce Automobiles and a piano that were taken from Havenhurst,He lost his claim as he refused to go to court to prove his ownership. I am only speculating but his fear of the court and the fact that he would have to testify might be the reason that he would not file another claim.. The judge gave MJ and Janet every opportunity to claim ownership even appointing a Mediator MJ and Janet would not cooperate. Finally after two years in bankruptcy the only persons to claim ownership were Tito's children The Three T's. The trustee went to court and the judge signed a Order to Abandon all the property at both warehouses to The Three T's MJ agreed with the Order. That Order required The Three T's to pay back storage fees of aprox $60 thousand and legal fees of $25 thousand within a 30 day period. THEY DID NOT PAY. The trustee went back to court where the judge cancelled the Order to Abandon and issued a new Order to Sell By Auction. We put a bid of $85,000,00 in writing to the trustee it was accepted subject to a auction,where anyone could overbid. In other words this was the minimum. The day of auction MJ lawyer is in court along with other family members NOBODY HAD A CERTIFIED CHECK AS REQUIRED So we were awarded the bid.Prior to the bid we contacted the warehouse that was owed the $60 thousand and purchased their lien for $40 thousand This meant that my total purchase price was $65,000.00.NOBODY EVER APPEALED THE AUCTION SALE.I am a little guy from New Jersey who could barely afford a lawyer against some of the largest Law Firms in California that were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect their clients , You Judge the Results. Part Two of Bridgett's Question Everything was sold to Howard Mann he has formed a partnership with MRs Jackson there fore MJ's children will benefit. "

Anonymous said...

Thank you Leslie and thank you Mr Vaccaro for explaining everything.

No, it doesn't say a lot for high-priced lawyers who were supposedly looking after their clients' interest. All someone had to do was attend the auction, pay $85,000.00, which was mainly for leasing fees anyway plus costs and the property would have been returned to its rightful owners. Of course, the high-priced attorneys' legal fees would have had to have been paid as well. What a mess. What a shame. The lawyers got paid regardless I assume, even though they failed miserably in their endeavors.

Mr Vaccaro - What is puzzling though is how you were able to purchase the lien for $40,000 days before the auction while the property was subject to the court proceedings. Could you explain how you were able to do that?

And does this mean that if there was a higher bid at auction, you would have been the recipient of the bid anyway?


Anonymous said...

I am not convinced. If you really wanted to give everything back for free, why not trying harder?

In my humble opinion, all things belonging to Michael Jackson should be given to his children, immediately.


Bridgett_361 said...

Thank you Henry,
I would love to hear the Jackson half,
I am going to be honest and tell you 90% of MJ fans do not like Mann and his business with Katherine we feel he his trying to exploit Katherine and using his kids,
Most of us would love if all Michael belong items are return to his kids in a trust for them, set up as a museum for fans to see.
We are not happy that item of personl nature are making it's round for pay per view.
We feel that items like letter and birth paper should be return to his family or his kids

But I really don't know what to say to you because we have not hear Michael side, we are looking for the truth for MJ justice,
So in all that is fairness I will not judge you on till the estate speak in court,
Our loyalty is to MJ and his estate I am hoping that this mess will be hatch out once and for all in court.
Thank you for telling you side of the tale.

Anonymous said...


I cannot find a subpeona for you from the SB DA's office nor any Defense team filings for or against concerning this in the SB Superior court database on this trial. And if there was one how is it the supposedly found underwear did not go directly into legal custody instead being waved around like some sort of flag by the Media whore Dimond? But this is what I found on you, her and Sneddon.


MJJJusticeProject said...

You ask what would we have done being in your shoes? WE would have done the right thing, the moral thing, the ethical thing. You can't say you wanted to set things right and then demand money for the the private memories of Michael and his family. You can try to explain it away by saying 'it's business' but it was NOT business. It's someone's life, memories, heart and soul you held in your possession. You sold it to Howard Mann ?!!! That says so much about you Mr. Vaccarro...it says so much....and none of it very good.

Anonymous said...

The Estate is Mrs jackson and MJ's children NOT Branca and McClain ...they are the executors ...who have made close to 80 million off of MJ's estate personally! Mrs Jackson has made very little. The truth will al come out wants the estate is audited in probate

Anonymous said...

To Henry Vaccaro,

I dislike liars and especially those who should know better. This is not 2005 where only a few had access to the court documents or even knew that Michael had a FBI file. The below document state that neither you nor your co-defendants were served with warrants and that "you" "voluntarily provided" the materials to the SB DA's office.

Today, the Fans & Supporters of MJ have the official documents and the articles, and videos of those who cannot keep their stories straight. Your attempts to rewrite history makes it impossible for many to trust you and if you are doing business with MJ's Family difficult to trust and support them. (See P. 13)



Elena Delgado said...

"The Estate is Mrs jackson and MJ's children NOT Branca and McClain ...they are the executors ...who have made close to 80 million off of MJ's estate personally! Mrs Jackson has made very little. "

^^^Corection, the Estate is equivalent to Michael Jackson, & the estate is hndled or authorized to be overlooked by both executors. Katherine Jackson was given custody to handle & guide MJ's children, Mrs. Jackson has little to experience in how to handle an estate. With everything we've witnessed, the Jacksons are the least dependable in such matters, & that includes Mrs. Jackson who's only concern is to care for ALL of her children & myriad of grandchildren which may conflict with Michael Jackson's best interest, legacy & estate. & she is well taken cared off, more than you realize. The executors work for Michael Jackson, they are not expected to work for free. Whatever monetary compensation they receive is actually LESS than what is expected of estate executors who usually get 20-30% off the estate individually whereas these 2 get a shared 10%.

Elena Delgado said...

I want to thank you so much dial for your insightful & very helpful post! I screencapped the 13th page btw: http://i55.tinypic.com/11azlgy.jpg

Anonymous said...

according to court docs, Vaccaro willingly in "good faith" offered up MJ's items - property he acquired from the Jackson warehouse - to Tom Sneddon and company (which Diane D was in the middle of). in other words, Vaccaro claimed he wasn't even served w/ a warrant for the items. [ref: http://www.sbscpublicaccess.org/docs/ctdocs/021505motretpersnlprp.pdf (pg 13/77).

Anonymous said...

Vaccaro(pg 13/77)


Anonymous said...

Are there any documentaries in the work?

Anonymous said...

pretty good post. I lawful stumbled upon your blog and wanted to command that I get really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any condition I’ ll be subscribing to your maintain and I hope you despatch again soon wedding dress.

lynande51 said...

I have a question regarding contacting Henry Vaccarro. Is it still possible and if so could I have the address to contact him?

LeslieMJHu said...

Unfortunately not.

Anonymous said...

So MJ and co lost a load of personel items, Henry lost his entire fortune he had worked his entire life for. Yet it seems no one has mentioned a single thing about the unseen people who also lost in this bad business deal. The people I refer to are of course the employees of the Kramer Guitar company who lost their livelyhoods and possible were unable to pay their mortgage or rent and in turn became homeless, forced to live off state payments until they could find work to support themselves with. I happen to know some of the people who worked in that company back then and lost their jobs their homes their belongings. So my question is this: Who is going to stand up for them and fight their corner in all this? and its not just the people who worked at Kramer but what about those who worked in Henrys and Jonny Cash hotel? or the Vaccaro construction company?

You talk about justice for MJ a man who was worth millions yet you seem to have not forgotten but ignored the other people I just mentioned. Shame on YOU and shame on the high paid lawyers and the people running the arm of the Jackson family business who are truelly responsible for this outrage. Shame on YOU ALL!!!

guiltyspark said...

In reading about the Jackson memorabilia fiasco, I noticed that one very obvious thing is never mentioned: if the Jackson family had simply paid for the company they purchased (Kramer Guitars), none of this would have happened. I think it's pretty obvious Mr. Vaccaro didn't want all of the memorabilia and hassle, he just wanted to be paid for the company he built. Blame him all you want, but the Jacksons set this whole situation in motion with their unethical business practices. If YOU sold a company you built from the ground up and sold it, wouldn't YOU want to be paid for it?

Regarding the Kramer guitar company, it's hard to imagine now, but in 1986 or so Rock and Pop-Metal were HUGE. Van Halen were one of the top bands in the world and their guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who changed guitar playing with his extraordinary technique, played a Kramer. EVERY Rock guitar player wanted a Kramer like Eddie's and Kramer also had exclusive rights to the Floyd Rose Tremolo which Eddie used extensively. So Kramer was not some small time company, though they may have faded a bit by the time the sale came about. Note that MJ used Eddie VH on the Beat It track and probably noticed his Kramer guitar. Perhaps that's why the family made the seemingly odd purchase of a guitar company.

BigBad Henry said...

This is Henry V Vaccaro I just read your reply to the Jackson purchase of Kramer Guitar Company from me. The first Kramer introduction to the Jackson Family came some time in the late 70's where we made a custom aluminum neck guitar for Tito ,with his name in rhinestones . We next made all the guitars and basses for the Jackson Victory Tour. So they were very familiar with the company. They set up Jackson Communications Inc and aproched me about buying Kramer Guitar. THEY NEVER PAID ,Need I say more.