The news of Michael Jackson's death has rocked the entire world. From Los Angeles to Bahrain, fans are mourning his passing. The "King of Pop- had sold an astounding 61 million albums during this career -“ in the US alone.
Jackson first exploded onto the music scene with his 1982 "Thriller- album. The album was an amazing success, still ranking as the second-best selling record of all time. Jackson was catapulted to super-stardom status. He traveled around the globe giving concert after concert to sold-out audiences. Jackson continued his tremendous success with the debut of his "Bad- album in 1991, which sold 22 million copies.
Jackson indulged in a lavish lifestyle with his astronomical earnings. His spending habits reportedly added up to $20 or $30 million a year. Most everyone has heard about the singer's "Neverland Ranch.- This a sprawling, 2,500 acre estate in the wine country of Santa Barbara County that Jackson bought for $14.6 million in 1988. The Ranch includes an immense playground that sports a full size Ferris wheel. It also has a zoo.
But in 1993, Jackson suffered a huge blow. Allegations surfaced that he had molested a 13-year-old boy. The singer ultimately reached a $22 million settlement with the boy's family, but the controversy forever changed his career, and his life. As Michael Levine, Jackson's publicist at the time, explained it: "That kind of represents the beginning of the walk down a tragic path, financially, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, legally.-
Jackson began to withdraw from public life. He ran into financial difficulty as his earnings ebbed but he continued to spend excessively. In 1995, Jackson was forced to sell a portion of his ownership in ATV Music, which holds the copyrights to Beatles' songs. Then, in 2001, Jackson took out $270 million loan from Bank of America, and had to pledge half of his remaining interest in ATV as collateral for the loan.
Things kept heading downhill from there. In 2003, another 13-year-old boy accused Jackson of molesting him. And this time, prosecutors got involved. Jackson was put on trial in 2005. He was ultimately acquitted, but his troubles continued. In March of last year, creditors commenced foreclosure on his Neverland Ranch. Jackson would have lost the property if it wasn't for billionaire Thomas Barrack, who agreed to set up a joint venture with Jackson, which took ownership of the ranch.
If that wasn't enough, the son Bahrain's King, Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, sued Jackson last year for $7 million. Al Khalifa had put up Jackson in his Bahrain estate and given the embattled singer millions of dollars to pay off debt. According to the lawsuit, Al Khalifa had done so in exchange for a cut of the profits from a new album and book that Jackson promised to produce but never did. The lawsuit settled for an undisclosed amount.
All of these troubles reportedly added up to $400 to $500 million in debt for Jackson as of this year. The singer had planned a major comeback tour, to pay down this debt and kick start his career again. He was slated to put on a 50-concert series in London, starting July 8th. And it looked like the tour would be a success: all 50 concerts sold out.
But, in a final twist of unfortunate fate, Jackson went into cardiac arrest last week while rehearsing for the show in Los Angeles. Doctors tried to revive him, but he was later pronounced dead at the UCLA hospital. Apparently, he had given himself a shot of Demerol, which may have caused the heart attack. Jackson was only 50 years old.
Jackson's death is not just a tragic end to a young, talented life; he leaves behind a tremendous amount of debt that his family must resolve. Fortunately, what remains of Jackson's interest in ATV music is reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. His death has also sparked a new wave of sales for his old albums. Fans may also soon able to buy a piece of his legacy: many of the singer's famed possessions are expected to go up for sale as the Jackson family tries to wrap up the King of Pop's final affairs.
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