Michael Jackson-$40 million in Debt?

I was saddened by his passing…but in the local newspaper, they reported that Jackson had blown through his fortune, and was $400 million in debt! How on earth did he accumulate so much debt? I assume he sold his ownership of the Beatle’s songs long ago-but wasn’t he making a ton off his own residuals?
I know he lived a wild life…but that much debt? How did he do it?

Lawyers and buying off children’s families?

He spent like crazy, AFAIK. If you look at some of the stuff in the Julien’s Auction catalog (the auction did not take place, Jackson’s people scrambled to fiddle around with his assets to make him liquid enough to hang onto his stuff) you can see some absolutely insanely expensive an utterly bizarre items whose costs were exhorbitant. Like life size statues of butlers, life size Han Solo frozen in carbonite, a creepy life size replica of himself wearing the Tim Burton Batman costume… (Warning, if you look at the catalog, the first 75-100 pages are probably vintage video games). Some of it is actually really cool, but jumpin’ Jeebus, it gives you an idea of how he spent: not wisely.

The catalog does not include more “normal” assets like real estate, or the fact that he was supporting his family etc. He probably had no idea of how to manage money because he probably never had any real concept of cost and value and never needed to balance his own checkbook.

No idea, but I always wonder how it’s possible for people like him to accumulate a debt like that, yet continue the lifestyle of the mega-rich – I heard his last accommodations cost him $100,000. In rent. Per month.

I mean, I could live like a king with a tenth of just that were I allowed to rack up the debt, but I don’t think anybody’s just gonna give it to me (though if there are any billionaires interested in conducting a social experiment on what happens to a natural slacker if you just give them $10k a month for doing fuck all, contact details are available via PM).

I hope I die with $400 mil of free shit.

Personally, I’d rather LIVE with $400 million of free shit.

The music business is not as lucrative as it looks. The record companies keep most of the profits not the artists. Artists make something like a dollar per album in royalties. And an album that sells twenty million copies is considered a huge success (there have only been about seventy albums that have sold that many copies).

There are a LOT of life-size statues of various types of people - an older woman in a bathrobe carrying a “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” book, a chef, several butlers, and a few really creepy kids.

Totally weird. I can’t imagine allowing one life-size statue of anyone in my house, much less a whole houseful of them.

They also get performance royalties (from things like radio and cover bands) and a significant amount of income can be generated if they get a cut of licensing. Someone of Jackson’s stature probably also gets a income from other merchandizing stuff, like Thriller lunchboxes or whatever back in the day.

In addition to all of the stuff he owned, his lifestyle was very expensive. The Neverland Ranch was basically a private theme park.

He basically lived like he was still the best selling artist in the world, his income did not come close to justifying his lavish lifestyle. This is the only reason he was going on tour in July, hes been out of money for a long time.

That’s the real Harrison Ford. That’s why it was so expensive.

He owned the rights to the Beetles music. That brought constant money in. It iwas worth 500 million when he bought it.

Is it $400 or $40 million?

I have no doubt he was in debt. When MJ turned 18, he was a millionaire and could have anything he wanted. Add in a layer of accountants, yes-men, and enablers, and I would suspect he was the kind of person who wouldn’t know the price of a gallon of milk, or that most of us in the world have to save or delay our desires.

Let’s not forget that Thriller is the best selling album of all time. Like 25x platinum. If I had that accomplishment under my belt (and no clear-eyed, trusted accountant to tell me what that meant) I’d probably spend like I had no sense, too.

I also think he had terrible business deals. He was known for buying the rights to the Beatles catalog, but that was only after Paul McCartney turned him on to it. I think the majority of dealings he had were probably done with shady types with terrible terms.

That’s what I meant when I said he probably had no sense of cost or value. By the he turned 18 and had control over his own finances, he probably had absolutely no concept of “value.”

Does anyone remember his 6 million dollar shopping trip in Vegas (I think it was filmed for the Bashir interview.) He bought CRAP. Like a really ugly life-size leopard figurines. Six million dollars worth. He didn’t even ask how much stuff was, just “I want two of those… One of those… Two of those…”

On my salary, I would have to work 120 years to pay for the tacky porcelain leopards he bought. I honestly don’t think he had any realistic sense of the value of money. Tell him a candy bar is $1 or $100 it would have been the same to him. Like Rainman.

Yeah, and the only way to get that perspective - especially when the last time when you were broke was when you were 10 years old - is to have an army of great managers and accountants. When I think about the musicians who have survived the bright lights of fame relatively unscathed, besides getting successful later in life, they have bad ass managers. Probably only music fans know Peter Grant, Paul McGuinness, and Miles Copeland, but Led Zep, U2, and The Police made it and survived (okay, excepting Bonzo) because of them.

On the other hand, look at The Beatles and The Smiths. Ran the course way too soon and ended in acrimony. Both bands had questionable management at one point, then lost it… and the bands imploded soon after. Frank Dileo was MJ’s manager during the his white-hot popularity and left in 1989. Coincidence that things fell apart after? Perhaps not.

Michael Jackson was batshit crazy. Nice guy and all but BATSHIT crazy.

This was in 1995

Wow. Looking through that catalog, it looks a lot like what would happen if you gave a 9-year-old kid $100 Million.

Can’t help wondering if all that stuff was to help lure and entertain his prepubescent “friends.”

I’m always kind of curious too about officially “bankrupt” celebrities who still appear to live fairly sumptuous lifestyles. Where does the cash come from to rent a $100K per month house?

I was wondering the same thing when I went to see The Hangover recently, and they showed Mike Tyson’s huge Vegas estate, complete with a menagerie. I thought Tyson was supposed to be broke and in debt as well. Where do these guys get the liquid assets just for (apparently still enormous) day to day expenses?