The financial times of fallen King of Pop

IN the late 1980s and early 1990s, Michael Jackson was the undisputed King of Pop, and probably the most famous man in the world.

He amassed a fortune thanks to the huge success of his records and commercial tie-ups with the likes of Pepsi.

Many people following the high court wrangling between Jackson and Sheikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa over an alleged €5.6 million debt will wonder why a superstar like Jackson needs to battle over the money — surely a trifling sum for the artist behind the biggest-selling album of all time, Thriller.

In a now-famous documentary made by British journalist Martin Bashir in 2003, Jackson was shown going on a €4.2m shopping spree.

The lifestyle which emerged in the Bashir documentary was bizarre, to put it mildly.

Jackson admitted sharing a bedroom with a 12-year-old boy, and insisted there was nothing wrong in the arrangement; he revealed that his baby son was born to a surrogate mother he had never met; and said the mother of his first two children, his former nurse Debbie Rowe, had given them to him “as a present”.

He also insisted it was perfectly acceptable to dangle his baby — whom he called “Blanket” — over a hotel balcony, saying the child had enjoyed it.

Since Jackson was cleared of child abuse charges by a court in 2005, his finances have apparently unravelled and earlier this month he was forced to give up the title to his Neverland ranch in California after defaulting on €18.3m he owed on the property.

He had faced repossession earlier this year before a company called Colony Capital bailed him out by buying his loan.

Neverland, a 2,500-acre site in the hills 190km north west of Los Angeles, was called Sycamore Valley before Jackson bought it in 1988 and turned it into an amusement park complete with zoo, rollercoaster, Ferris wheel and miniature railway.

Many saw the ranch as an attempt to create the magical childhood experiences Jackson was himself denied, having been thrust into the limelight as a performer at the age of six, and at the height of his stardom he invited thousands of children to come and play in the grounds.

Jackson has not lived at Neverland since his trial, and recent aerial photos show the ranch falling into disrepair.

Wacko Jacko in numbers

3 — Children fathered by Jackson.

5 — Original members of The Jacksons.

10 — Solo studio albums released by Jackson.

10 — Charges relating to child abuse Jackson was tried for in 2005. He was acquitted on all of them.

13 — Number one singles in the US charts, more than any other male performer in history.

37 — Weeks Thriller spent at number one in US.

2,700 — Area in acres of the Neverland ranch.

500,000 — Cost in dollars of the groundbreaking video for the single Thriller.

20,000,000 — Estimated out-of-court settlement in dollars with family of Jordy Chandler, who accused Jackson of molesting him.

47,500,000 — dollars paid by Jackson for publishing rights to many of the Beatles’ songs.

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