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Beat It, Bidders: Marshals Cancel Jackson Jr. Auction

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen came on stage during a Texas stop of Michael Jackson's 1984 tour to play on "Beat It," the Jackson hit that featured a solo by Van Halen. Now, questions about a guitar that the two supposedly signed have led to the cancellation of an auction of Jesse Jackson Jr.'s goods.
Carlos Osorio

"Legitimate concerns about the authenticity of the guitar purportedly signed by Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen" have led the U.S. Marshals Service to cancel an auction of the goods forfeited by former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill.

That would be the former congressman (no relation to the deceased pop star) who is on his way to prison for illegal use of $750,000 in campaign funds.

As The Associated Press and others have previously reported, the guitar is among the flashy items that the Marshals Service hopes to sell from posessions forfeited by Jackson Jr. There's a red cashmere cape, a framed "Thriller" poster supposedly signed by Michael Jackson and a framed Bruce Lee autograph.

Jackson Jr. spent $4,000 of his campaign funds to buy the guitar. The Marshals Service did not spell out the issues concerning its authenticity.

A Michael Jackson-Eddie Van Halen signed guitar, of course, would be highly collectible because Van Halen played the guitar solo on Jackson's hit Beat It.

As for Jackson Jr., NBC News reminds us that "he is to report to prison in November." He's been given a 2 1/2 year sentence. His wife Sandra, who was convicted of filing false tax returns, is due to spend 1 year in jail.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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