Michael Jackson: It’s all about money


Michael Jackson: 1958 – 2009
It’s all about money
Jacko’s parents face off with will executors over pop star’s final requests
AT FIRST glance, the raucous scene outside Michael Jackson’s multi-million dollar Neverland ranch seems a stark contrast to the silence inside.
05 July 2009

AT FIRST glance, the raucous scene outside Michael Jackson’s multi-million dollar Neverland ranch seems a stark contrast to the silence inside.

Vendors hawking hastily-made Michael Jackson T-shirts for US$10 ($14.50) to the hundreds of people gathered outside the gates. Fans haggling for lower prices as the increasing number of media crew add to the din.

Inside the 1,100 ha ranch, serene beauty underlies the deserted silence.

But look a little deeper and the stark reality is that the two scenes are similar.

After the pop star’s death, it’s all about the money.

While money changes hands outside, the financial haggling inside is just as loud and public.

In one corner, Michael Jackson’s parents.

In the opposite, a prominent entertainment attorney and a respected music executive.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge reviewed a copy of a 2002 will on Wednesday that names attorney John Branca and Mr John McClain, a co-founder of Interscope Records, executors of Jackson’s estate.

He declined the two men’s request to remove the performer’s mother, Mrs Katherine Jackson, from her role as temporary administrator.

Judge Mitchell Beckloff acknowledged that his basis for granting the 79-year-old the power – an assertion by her attorneys Monday that Jackson died without a will – was ‘likely wrong,’ but he said the matter could be aired fully at a later hearing.

The judge urged the parties to reach a consensus over the next few days.

‘I would like the family to sit down and try to make this work so that we don’t have a difficult time in court,’ he said.

Money problems had often plagued Neverland, and they were always big and noisy.

In 2007, Jackson, deep in financial trouble, put his dream home, which he bought in 1987, up as collateral on US$23 million loan.

The estate was saved when a company bought over the debt, but Jackson never moved back into the Neverland ranch. Instead, he chose a lavish life, jetting between Bahrain, Europe and Las Vegas.

In March 2006, after Jackson left the US for Bahrain, Neverland made the news again when Californian authorities shut it down after workers complained they had not been paid in months, reported AFP.

Mansion to museum

Jackson agreed to pay more than US$300,000 in back wages to avoid a civil lawsuit, though he had virtually abandoned his home by then.

Neverland isn’t the only Jackson residence in the news, however.

After Jackson’s death on 25 Jun, French fashion mogul Christian Audigier announced plans to buy the vast mansion in the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Holmby Hills where Jackson died.

Jackson had been paying US$100,000 dollars a month to rent the Holmby Hills mansion, owned by MrAudigier’s associate Hubert Guez, reported AFP.

Mr Audigier, who designed outfits for Jackson, will convert the house into ‘a place dedicated to the memory of the star to which the public and fans will have access,’ his spokesman Laurent Guyot told AFP in Paris.

It’s all about money

Crowds clamour for souvenirs outside Jackson’s Neverland ranch

# Michael Jackson’s family announced a free memorial service on Tuesday at the Staples Center arena in Los Angeles.

Some 11,000 tickets will be distributed free of charge for the event. A memorial service would take place at 10 am (US time) on Tuesday.



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