When the world-renowned pop star Michael Jackson died in June 2009, he was in financial trouble and his property Neverland Ranch was facing foreclosure. Since his death, his estate has received substantial amounts of income, while numerous claims have been brought against his estate.
The New York Times has quoted Michael Jackson's former advisors who blame Jackson's spending habits for his financial difficulties. Alvin Malnik remarked "[Michael Jackson] never kept track of what he was spending. He would indiscriminately charter jets. He would buy paintings for $1.5 million. You couldn't do that ever other week and expect your books to balance." Charles Koppelman, another former Jackson advisor, commented "[Michael Jackson] was a fantastic visionary on the business front. He just couldn't deal with his personal finances."
Six months after his death, new claims continue to be brought against the late pop star's estate. Attorneys Thomas Mesreau Jr. and Susan Yu, of the law firm Mesereau & Yu, LLP, have filed a $341,452 claim against Michael Jackson's estate, for amounts owed for the defense of the late pop star in his child molestation case in 2005. The accounting firm of Cannon and Company has filed a creditor's claim seeking $56,582 for services rendered earlier this year. A company called Video & Audio Center has filed a $128,482.77 claim for installing electronic audio and video equipment at the Neverland Ranch. Michael Jackson's probate case is currently pending before the Los Angeles Superior Court as case number BP117321, and a search of the court's online case summary page can show a summary of the case activities.
Although Michael Jackson had to grapple with financial issues prior to his death, his estate appears to be pulling out of the red. Since the pop star's death, there has been a large influx of revenue from his music sales, film deals and merchandising contracts. Commentators project Jackson's estate can generate revenues of $30 Million annually, from his own music sales and from other music rights Jackson had purchased (which is rather low compared to the $55 Million generated by Elvis Presley's estate last year). Some believe the Neverland Ranch may have income potential, much like Elvis Presley's mansion Graceland.
During his life, Michael Jackson frequently engaged in humanitarian activities. The photograph to the right shows the late star with the late President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan at a White House ceremony on May 14, 1984, to launch the campaign against drunk driving.
Robin Mashal is a partner at the law firm of Hong & Mashal LLP. He can be reached at (310) 286-2000.