When Michael Jackson died suddenly in June of 2009, he was $400 million in debt. But through continued album sales, a film and merchandizing his estate has earned over $310 million. One of the main contributors to the income has been the This Is It movie, which focused on Michael in rehearsals ahead of his planned comeback shows at London’s The O2, as it grossed more than $261 million worldwide, while his back catalogue of music has been re-released, as well as previously unheard songs.
According to court documents excecutors have already spent roughly $159 million paying back various debts, income taxes and other expenses. The estate has also paid for “substantial improvements” to the Neverland ranch in California, and supports Michael’s mother Katherine and his three children, Prince Michael, 13, Paris, 12 and nine-year-old Prince Michael II, who is known as Blanket. According to court documents, the estate paid more than $115,000 in “family vacation” expenses between June and July of 2010.
It has also paid off the mortgage on Hayvenhurst house, the Jackson family home, bought Katherine a new car and is paying for upmarket temporary accommodation while the family compound is being renovated. Along with the $400 million debt, there was also $40 million owed to AEG, the promoter that was working with Jackson on the This Is It Tour at the time of his death. The documents show over 65 creditor claims against the estate as well as several lawsuits outside the country.
The Grammy winning Jackson sold 8.3 million combined album sales and 12.4 million downloads of single tracks in America in 2009, placing him ahead of Elvis Presley and John Lennon on Forbes Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list, with $90 million in earnings.