Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, stunned the world, and sparked nostalgia for the singer’s music that has transformed his image and catapulted his estate to the top of earnings charts. The success of the estate was not a foregone conclusion. By the time of his death at age 50, Jackson was deep in debt and his image was tarnished by child molestation allegations, despite his acquittal.
Here’s a look at the estate and how it’s refurbished Jackson’s image to provide for his family in the past five years:
NOT ALL IN THE FAMILY
Jackson’s 2002 will calls for his estate to support his mother, Katherine, and his three children, while leaving nothing for his siblings and his father.
The will also left Katherine Jackson as the primary caretaker of his children, Prince, Paris and Blanket. The four receive a stipend and the estate pays for the children’s education, vacations, and a mansion in the celebrity enclave of Calabasas. Through the end of 2012, Jackson’s estate paid nearly $20 million to support his mother and children.
STILL A CROWD PLEASER
Jackson’s death returned him to the top of the record charts and quickly generated hundreds of millions of dollars through deals for new albums and a movie created from his final rehearsals for his planned “This Is It” comeback concerts.
Jackson’s posthumous album “Xscape” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart when it was released last month, and a touring Cirque du Soleil show based on his music has played nearly 500 shows. All that translates into major money for Jackson’s estate, which generated more than $600 million in gross earnings through 2013.
HEIRS GROWING UP
Jackson shielded his children from the public eye when he was alive, but the trio are now familiar faces after appearing at memorials and award shows.
Blanket Jackson, 12, is looking forward to a summer of swimming and practices karate when he isn’t in school, his cousin TJ Jackson said last month.
His older brother, Prince, 17, still has a love for film and is nearing the end of high school, although his specific plans haven’t been revealed. Their sister Paris, 16, has been out of the public eye since being hospitalized after taking several tablets of aspirin and cutting herself with a knife last year, but TJ Jackson said she is doing fine.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Jackson named attorney John Branca, who served as Jackson’s lawyer during the singer’s heyday, and family friend and music executive John McClain as the executors of his estate.
Branca is the public face of the estate, appearing at premieres of new Jackson events. McClain, who has suffered health problems in recent years, keeps a lower profile.
For their services, the men receive a percentage of the estate’s earnings.
WHO’S GETTING THE MOST MONEY
So far, the biggest share of Jackson’s estate hasn’t gone to his family.
Instead, paying $91 million for taxes and business licenses proved to be the estate’s biggest expense between June 2009 and January 2013. The executors of Jackson’s estate have been paid more than $25 million in compensation, most of which came in the first year when large deals for new albums and the “This Is It” film were made. Lawyers for both the estate and Jackson’s heirs were paid nearly $17.7 million between mid-2009 and the end of 2012.
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