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Hospital Refuses To Sell Elephant Man Skeleton To Pop Star

June 18, 1987 GMT

LONDON (AP) _ The London Hospital Medical College says it will not sell the skeleton of John Merrick, the so-called Elephant Man, to Michael Jackson no matter how much the American pop star offers.

College secretary David Edwards said Wednesday that the college had rejected the 28-year-old Jackson’s original $500,000 offer and would also reject his second offer of $1 million.

″There is a very strong feeling that it would be quite wrong on ethical grounds to sell John Merrick’s remains for money. We are always desperate for research funds and sums of this size are attractive, but we are not in the business of selling his remains,″ Edwards said.

The British domestic news agency Press Association said the singer has reportedly stated he is determined to acquire the skeleton for his private museum.

The agency said Jackson is reportedly creating a ″chamber of horrors″ at his Los Angeles home, with items including deformed skulls, skeletons and a library of medical books on strange diseases.

Merrick was dubbed the Elephant Man because of his terrible deformities stemming from a twisted spine and huge lopsided skull. He died in 1900 and his remains were later acquired by the college.

The 1980 American-made film ″The Elephant Man″ won high praise from critics for its penetrating and sympathetic depiction of his life. The penniless Merrick was rescued from a fairground freak show in Victorian London by a doctor and became a member of fashionable society.

His deformities are believed to have been caused by the rare disease neurofibromatosis.

Edwards said the skeleton is not on public display. He said even medical researchers must give a good reason before they are allowed to see it, but that Jackson was allowed to see it several years ago after becoming fascinated by the film.

″He was allowed to see it because it would have caused more publicity if he was not allowed to see it,″ Edwards said.

He said the college had no idea then that Jackson would want to buy it.