Michael Jackson's posthumous reversal of fortune

June 09, 2014 16:14
Michael Jackson lives on in film and recordings that have generated millions in posthumous revenue. Photo: Reuters

If Michael Jackson's fatal cardiac arrest proved anything, it's that there's a lot of life left in the performer after his death. 

Ian Halperin, author of "Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson", says the singer was in debt to the tune of US$500 million when he died in 2009 but the estate has since had a dramatic reversal of fortune to be US$1.5 billion in the black.

Halperin said that within weeks of Jackson’s death that the co-executors of his estate, John Branca and John McClain, secured lucrative major merchandising deals. There was a contract with Sony, a flood of income from the This Is It concert movie and two shows with Cirque du Soleil.

"Posthumously, three of his albums sold more than any new album," the writer said. 

That all added up to around US$600  million in earnings, more than enough to pay off the estate's debt.

The revived finances stirred up a hornet's nest of conspiracy theories about Jackson's death, including accusations from his siblings. 

But estate spokesman Jim Bates said the allegations from the family are "grounded in stale internet conspiracy theories".

Halperin said Jackson was a tormented man and dogged by debt and drug abuse in his last years.

"What a desperate irony that his financial managers have performed so much better after his death than before," he said.

If only Jackson had been able to take it with him.

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