Michael Jackson died with more than $500m of debt, new court filing reveals

Michael Jackson died with more than $500m of debt, new court filing reveals

Michael Jackson owed more than $500m to various creditors at the time of his death, new court documents have revealed.

Earlier this week, Attorney John Branca and A&R executive John McClain, the executives of the late pop star’s estate, filed a petition to the Los Angeles Superior Court seeking legal authorization to pay several law firms for their services rendered to the estate from July through December 2018.

In the legal files obtained by Entertainment Weekly, the nature of Jackson’s finances before and since his 2009 passing is detailed.

“The Executors have faced extraordinarily challenging circumstances,” the petition reads.

“Among other issues, at the time of Michael Jackson’s death, Michael Jackson’s most significant assets were subject to more than $500 million of debt and creditors’ claims, with some of the debt accruing interest at extremely high interest rates, and some debt in default.”

Before his death at age 50 from acute propofol intoxication, Jackson had been in the middle of preparing for his This Is It residency, which also added financial strain on his resources.

However, in the years since his death, the executors have extensively turned his estate’s financial system around, claiming that they “have resolved virtually all of the creditors’ claims and litigations and have successfully solidified the MJJ business as a significant entity in the music industry.”

Michael Jackson died with more than $500m worth of debt (Getty Images)
Michael Jackson died with more than $500m worth of debt (Getty Images)

Part of this money comes from the estate’s purchase of a stake in EMI Publishing and the rights to Motown classics and Carole King and Norah Jones songs in 2012 for $50,000, followed by their sales to Sony for $300m in 2018.

It’s due to this and other financial gains that Branca and McClain are now seeking legal approval to pay a total of $3m to various law firms for their services provided during that time.

More recently, the 2022 Tony-winning Broadway show MJ the Musical and director Antoine Fuqua’s forthcoming Michael biopic, starring Jackson’s nephew Jaafar Jackson and Euphoria star Coleman Domingo, have also added to the estate’s financial successes.

Last year, a California court of appeals revived a lawsuit from two men who allege Jackson sexually abused them for years when they were boys.

Wade Robson and James Safechuck detailed a number of harrowing allegations in the Dan Reed-directed documentary Leaving Neverland in 2019.

The pair have been granted a trial jury against Jackson’s estate and corporations, MJJ Productions Inc and MJJ Ventures Inc. An attorney for the estate has denied the allegations, saying they were “disappointed.” “Two distinguished trial judges repeatedly dismissed these cases on numerous occasions over the last decade because the law required it,” Jonathan Steinsapir said in an email to The Associated Press.

“We remain fully confident that Michael is innocent of these allegations, which are contrary to all credible evidence and independent corroboration, and which were only first made years after Michael’s death by men motivated solely by money.”

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