50-Foot Michael Jackson Robot Was to Roam Las Vegas Desert
In 2005, Michael Jackson and fashion designer Andre Van Pier began working on costume and set designs for the late King of Pop’s planned 50-show residency in Las Vegas.
In anticipation of the residency, Van Pier, who was a longtime friend of the Jackson family, and designed costumes for MJ’s sisters Janet and La Toya, began working on a 50-foot Michael Jackson robot with his partner Michael Luckman and artist Timothy Patterson. The robot would roam the nearby desert, acting as a monolithic advertisement for the residency, visible to anyone who flew into Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.
Unfortunately, Michael, who was living in Nevada at the time, wasn’t able to raise enough capital for the Las Vegas residency because he was deeply in debt, and investors were reluctant to enter into a deal with him so soon after his 2005 child-molestation trial. The MJ robot, which was intended to help draw financing as well as improve his tarnished public image, remained in limbo.
“Michael really liked the initial designs and wanted to use them somehow,” Luckman told MTV News. Van Pier instead began working with Patterson to incorporate the robot concept into the design of a Michael Jackson hotel and casino, where the Michael Jackson robot would stand as a sentry at the entrance.
“The idea came up as a proposal to build a giant robotic hotel,” Patterson stated. “The face would move, shooting laser-beam-looking lights. The whole building would be covered with spotlights.”
When Van Pier died in 2008, Luckman and Patterson continued working on his design. Though Jackson’s plans for a Las Vegas residency were put on permanent hold as he prepared for his U.K. ‘This Is It’ concert series, Luckman and Patterson remained optimistic.
“We were supposed to meet with him in London this November,” Patterson said. “But then Andre died,” and then, of course, so did the King of Pop, taking hopes of the roaming 50-foot robot/hotel with him.