Quote: Originally Posted by L Gilbert
Actually he did have lots, but he also squandered like money grew on trees and borrowed massively.
Michael Jackson performing Photo: AP
At one point Jackson (external - login to view)
was worth close to $1 billion (£600 million) with his songs from the 1980s generating £180 million in royalties. He earned a further £200 million from concerts, publishing, endorsements, merchandising and music videos.
He bought The Beatles back catalogue in 1985 for £28 million, outbidding Sir Paul McCartney.
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However, ten years later when he first hit financial difficulties, he sold half of the archive back to Sony. The 50 per cent stake he retained is now worth £300 million on paper but this is mortgaged to the hilt.
Jackson was around £200 million in debt when he died. Nevertheless, there will now be a long legal battle over the remains of his fortune and his three children.
The financial decline began in 1988 with the £10 million acquisition of the 2,600-acre Neverland estate, which has been abandoned since his 2005 child molestation trial. It is the enduring monument to Jackson's life of excess and rise and fall from superstar to disturbed eccentric. The ranch cost around £145,000 a month to operate.
Despite the not guilty verdict in the child molestation case neither Jackson's reputation or finances recovered after he made a settlement of around £16.5 million with Jordy Chandler, 13, one of his accusers. During the trial, the scale of Jackson's financial problems emerged but he continued to live the life of a superstar travelling with an 15-strong entourage in private jets and staying in hotel suites at £7,000-a-night. He spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on doctors', dermatologists, and plastic surgeons and indulging his passion for electronic gadgets and Neverland.
As far back as the mid 1990s, when he was still recording and performing, he had to sell to Sony half the Beatles catalogue. As his fortune vanished he secured more than £160 million of loans against his remaining stake in the Beatles archive which owned the rights to songs including Yesterday and Hey Jude. The monthly payments on the loans were £2.7 million.
The catalogue Ė and other publishing rights Ė were Jackson's last big asset which will be the centre of court battles over whether they should pass to his children, Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and Prince Michael II, 7, commonly known as Blanket. The first two children were by his second wife Debbie Rowe, a nurse. As part of her multi-million pound divorce settlement, she relinquished any rights to access to her children. The identity of the mother of his third child has never been divulged.
It is now expected there will be a legal battle over who gets custody of the children. The singer's mother, Katherine, wants to care for all three of them. However, friends said Jackson said he wanted the nanny to have them should he die. Grace Rwaramba, 42, worked for Jackson for nearly 20 years, and is so close to the children they call her "mom".
Miss Rowe may also decide to fight for the custody of Prince Michael and Paris.
Brian Oxman, the Jackson family lawyer, said: "I suspect that the death of Michael Jackson is only the beginning of the legal battles over not only his property, but also his children."
On trips to London he always went to Harrods and Hamleys spending up to £80,000 in each store. In Martin Bashir's television documentary the singer was filmed spending £600,000 in one day even though there had been a precipitous decline of CD sales. But the spending continued as he tried to buy the bones of Joseph Merrick, the "Elephant Man", for £600,000 and made a £5 million divorce settlement with his second wife.
Alvin Malnik, a former adviser, said: "Michael never had any concept of fiscal responsibility. If you want to take a trip to London, that's one thing. If you want to have your entourage of 15 to 20 people with you, it gets expensive."
In 2006 he moved to Bahrain but inevitably that caused even more problems. He was sued for £4.6 million by Prince Abdullah of Bahrain for allegedly reneging on a deal to make a record and produce a Broadway show. He ended his days in a rented mansion in Los Angeles which was once owned by Sir Sean Connery.
At the end he was fighting an array of lawsuits from former business associates and settled with one over a £29 million payment that was allegedly owed for refinancing.
Jackson once said: "It's the entertainment world, full of thieves and crooks. Everybody knows that." In the end though, everybody who knew Jackson also knew that the world's most successful recording artist was no longer even a millionaire though he lived like a billionaire.