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Exploring the Depressing House of Michael Jackson's Disgraced Dermatologist

The wares currently being peddled at the bankruptcy-forced estate sale of Dr. Arnold Klein, much-maligned former dermatologist to the stars, are truly horrifying.

by Megan Koester
Nov 21 2013, 6:49pm

Having visited a handful of them (and never, mind you, under positive circumstances), I can confidently state that the homes of Hollywood's countless hangers-on are all the same. The following ratio, seemingly without exception, dictates the dispersion of their possessions: 60% sun-bleached photos of them with former celebrities, usually dating from the 1980s and 1990s; 10% formerly modern furniture, usually dating from the 1980s and 1990s; 10% formerly modern art, usually created by equally sycophantic succubi like Andy Warhol and David LaChapelle in the 1980s and 1990s; and 20% what can kindly be described as "complete and utter fucking garbage," usually acquired in the late 1990s (what I like to call the "wild card.")

The wares currently being peddled at the bankruptcy-forced estate sale of Dr. Arnold Klein, much-maligned former dermatologist to the stars, are no exception to this rule.

In happier times, Liz Taylor, Cher, Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga and, rather infamously, Michael Jackson were regulars at his Beverly Hills practice; a solid decade of lawsuits, criminal investigations, and embarrassing press appearances, however, have irreparably tarnished the legacy of the man once hailed as the "Father of Botox." Miscellaneous effects from the estate of the good bad doctor, infamous enough to have his own "Saga" page on TMZ's website, are shamelessly being hawked in his seized Hancock Park mansion through Saturday.

In order to enter the house, which is currently in shambles and in escrow (its listing describes it as a "rare yet tarnished treasure"), I had to sign a waiver. The company putting on the sale (probably rightfully) feared I'd fall into a gaping, construction-related hole and decide to get litigious. I understand their desire to cover their own asses; those unfortunate enough to still be affiliated with Klein already have enough problems.

As a dermatologist, Klein provided a much-needed, God-like service to his famous clients, all of whom required aesthetic perfection in order to hold on to whatever modicum of stardom they possessed. His pal Elizabeth "Eighth Time's a Charm" Taylor, in a book she once gifted to Klein, tellingly inscribed, "My beloved Arnie. I love you more than I can tell. I feel you have saved my fading life."

Klein's love of and obsession with his celebrity clientele is still evident in his social media presence; the majority of his Twitter feed is devoted to links to his Quora profile. On it, he answers dozens of questions about celebrities, all of which he purports to know intimately. In a series of grammatically incorrect answers to queries that were not specifically asked to him, he describes Cary Grant as "a dear friend" and declares Michael Jackson "the Mona Lisa of Performance Art."

On his practice's website, he brags about being mentioned in films like Postcards from the Edge; a leather-bound, signed copy of the movie's script, written by client Carrie Fisher and tagged with the ridiculously exorbitant price of $350, was up for grabs. Even Fisher, the pride-deficient former alcoholic/Jenny Craig spokesperson, has cut ties with him at this point.

The wealth of Star Wars-related paraphernalia (action figures, light-sabers, Jabba the Hut and Slave Leia statues ensconced in plastic cases) on sale in his former Xanadu harkens back to simpler, more successful times. A delightfully sacrilegious, life-sized David LaChappelle photo of Jesus Christ holding what appears to be the corpse of a burdened Michael Jackson is prominently featured in the center of the house's epic staircase, on sale for $6,500.

Estate sales are always a depressing affair; Klein's has malaise in spades, mostly because he's still alive to witness it. His garage is filled with wheelchairs, tattered pillows, Bentley rims, bedazzled Ed Hardy candles, ostentatious ski outfits and Disney paraphernalia. Plastic bags filled with correspondence from satisfied customers like Brett " Grace Under Fire" Butler and Barbara " Meet the Fockers" Streisand can be procured for the right price.

Greeting cards from the Clinton White House are also available. Arnie appeared to have a thing for the administration, owning tchotchkes like sax-playing Clinton dolls, Hillary nutcrackers and ancient photos of him with both politicians. A salmon-hued suite off the main staircase, which hand-written signs state was "Michael Jackson's Bedroom," is filled with mediocre art and a Versace dinner table.

Jackson returned to the doctor's fold in 2009, after having lived overseas for a handful of years. The delighted Klein went out of his way to roll out the red carpet for him, neglecting other clients and maintaining a steady stream of Demerol for the Gloved One until his untimely demise later that year. Debbie Rowe, Jackson's ex-wife and mother of his kids, was Klein's medical assistant for decades. Having met Jackson after he burned his scrotum bleaching it under Klein's care in 1993, she was the sweet, selfless soul who assisted in his rehabilitation process, and love (or something akin to it) bloomed. After Jackson's death, Klein tried unsuccessfully to be involved in the lives of Rowe and Jackson's children; he publicly alleged to be the sperm donor responsible for their existence. This explained why the children's surgical masks were available at the sale.

Klein's hero worship, however, was for naught; in the end, all he got was a shit-stained reputation, a collection of laughably dated Versace housewares and a crumbling estate filled with cautionary tales. If you have the cash, and the inclination, you can own them. But why would you want to?


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Megan Koester
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Elizabeth Taylor
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Arnie Klein