man from Leelanau once had Michael Jackson’s “Broken Heart” handprint | Living in the North


CEDAR – For years County Leelanau was home to a history thriller. But unlike Michael Jackson’s Halloween song of the same name, not many people have heard it.

A cement handprint of Michael Jackson has remained in a Solon Township home for over four years, intact and mostly unknown. Now that same handprint is the subject of an upcoming book and movie.

“The Broken Heart Stone,” as it’s called today, can be found in front of the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater at the end of Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.

“Kids (Paris, Prince and Blanket Jackson), I’ve heard, often go there incognito and they put their hand in Michael’s handprint,” said Andrew Wilson, author of the book.

Wilson said if it hadn’t been for two men in Traverse City, none of this would have happened.

In the mid-1980s, there were plans to recreate the famous Hollywood Walk-of-Fame in Las Vegas in front of the Riviera Hotel and Casino. The project was never completed, but the handprints of the Jackson 5, Mohammed Ali, Dolly Parton, the Smothers Brothers and others had been taken and stored.

Photos from 1984 show Jackson putting his hand in the cement at Zoetrope Studios in Hollywood alongside Mark Sterbens, COO of the Riviera Hotel. Michael was 25 at the time and Sterbens verified that he was present with him. The Jackson 5 were preparing to embark on their Victory Tour.

“That’s me in the picture with Michael Jackson,” Sterbens wrote in his book letter to Wilson.

Eventually, the hotel decided to raffle the artifacts stored at frequent gamers (The Riviera filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and the hotel was demolished in 2015). When Johnny Johnson, a Leelanau resident, was in Vegas with his wife in the fall of 2004, he entered one of the raffles to win the Jackson print. For several months, he says he forgot it.

In February 2005, Johnson’s name was drawn to win the 300-pound, 3-by-3-foot stone, and a few weeks later she was unloaded in her living room in County Leelanau.

Johnson said he was surprised to see him in person when he opened the box.

“You could hardly tell Michael Jackson had signed it,” Johnson said. “I guess I wasn’t impressed and couldn’t figure out what I would one day do with it.”

A suggestion came from a Riviera slots host who said Johnson should put the stone in his backyard.

“I have weeds and sand in the back of my house,” Johnson said. “The only thing I have in my garden are peppers, tomatoes and vegetables.”

Johnson put the cover back on the stone and put it in his garage.

“He was stuck in a corner and I was always afraid my wife would hit him or fall and break him,” Johnson said. “I didn’t see it as something really valuable at the time.”

The “King of Pop” was also considered quite a controversial figure at the time for his off-stage lifestyle, changing appearance, label conflicts, and relationships. In 1993, Jackson settled out of court after being accused of assaulting the child of a family friend. In January before Johnson acquired the stone in 2005, Jackson was facing his second child sexual abuse allegation. Jackson was acquitted of all charges after his trial in June of that year.

“His fans, I guess it didn’t really bother them. Seniors like me bothered, ”Johnson said.

On June 25, 2009, less than three weeks before the first show of the This Is It tour, Jackson died of cardiac arrest caused by an overdose of propofol from his personal physician. Johnson saw this as the time to sell the stone.

Helped by a friend of his – Bill Nemetz, a retired police officer from Traverse City – they sold the stone on an auction website to a bidder in Saudi Arabia (for a dollar amount Johnson did not want to share). But there was a problem with sending the money, Johnson said, and he wouldn’t ship it until the item was paid for.

Meanwhile in Las Vegas, Andrew Wilson, a Kung Fu champion and Jackson’s personal friend, heard rumors from one of Jackson’s former employees at Neverland (Wilson didn’t want to share their name) that the stone may soon be auctioned off or maybe already sold.

Wilson obtained contact details from Nemetz, who told him about the alleged Middle Eastern buyer. When the time of the highest bidder ran out, Wilson expressed interest in printing and offered to make an email deposit. The initial sale failed and Wilson would send the rest of the money before he even saw the item he was purchasing.

What became clear when Wilson saw the stone was that it wasn’t exactly a PYT. As Wilson began to restore the stone, there appeared to be a crack running through a raised heart on Jackson’s hand.

No one knows how the crack got there. Johnson says he never saw a crack when he had the stone because it was so dirty. Wilson says the stone may have cracked during transport from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Las Vegas to Traverse City, and Traverse City to Los Angeles. Since the day of its discovery, the appearance of the crack has increased.

“I’m going to have to be honest, I almost had a heart attack,” Wilson said. “It was insured for a fair amount of money but I didn’t want to touch it because we realized that the crack in the stone made it priceless. We noticed in Michael’s hand that there was a heart shape, which is really interesting in itself. … The crack, for some reason, went through the heart in the hand.

“And that’s where he earned the name ‘Broken Heart Stone’.”

Wilson began negotiating with the Smithsonian and the Grammy Museum to find a permanent home for the stone before surviving members of the Jackson family themselves became interested in it. He declined several offers before transferring ownership to Jackson Estate.

The current Stone House sits across from the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, and in the process of selling Wilson retained the rights to write a book about the entire ordeal. TigerMaster Media is working on a documentary and was recently in Traverse City interviewing Johnson and Nemetz. The book is on sale now.

The book deals with Wilson’s relationship with Jackson, buying and restoring the stone, selling it to Jackson Estate, and transporting it to his current home at Grauman’s. It also discusses the deep crack and why Wilson says it may not have been there by pure coincidence.

Wilson views the Cracked Stone as a symbolic representation of Jackson’s life, serving as the King of Pop’s last chance to leave a message to the world after his death.

“I believe this is a message from Michael to the world that we just have to love each other,” Wilson said. “Michael was heartbroken. He just wanted everyone to love each other. And I believe the message from a broken heart, from a person who was loved by everyone and who loved people, was that ‘ there must be an end to the madness.

The hard copy of the book was published in a limited edition with 7,777 copies (Jackson’s favorite number was seven). It has since been exhausted. The ebook is available on Amazon for $ 7.77 and is available in English and Spanish.

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