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Michael Jackson Museum Advances Without Estate's Permission

Joe Jackson and Indiana mayor announce intention to break ground on arts center

June 3, 2010 1:58 PM ET

Plans to build a Michael Jackson museum in the King of Pop's hometown of Gary, Indiana, are officially underway. Michael's father Joe Jackson and Mayor Rudy Clay have announced that the city donated 300 acres of land for the proposed museum and arts center. After years of planning, construction of the Jackson Family Museum and Hotel and the Michael Jackson Performing Arts and Cultural Center and Theaters could begin next year, the AP reports. According to Clay, funding for the $300 million project would come from both investors and donations, and not taxpayer money.

Look back at Michael Jackson's remarkable career in photos.

"This is a happy day for me because this is something that my family and Michael have always wanted. We're bringing something back," Joe Jackson said at a press conference (watch it at NWI Times). Clay predicted that the museum and arts center would help attract 750,000 people a year to Gary, bringing in $100 million to $150 million in income for the community. "This project will be the magnet that will draw people from all over the world," Clay said, adding that Michael Jackson expressed an interest in bringing an arts center and theater bearing his name to Gary, where Michael and his family spent his early years, as far back as 2003. "This is not a promise. This is going to be done," Clay said of the project, which also includes plans for a hotel, stores, restaurants, housing and even a golf course.

Michael Jackson's memorial: photos from the all-star tribute show.

One major obstacle remains, however: receiving permission from the Jackson estate to use Michael's name and copyright at all. (Joe Jackson was written out of Michael's will.) "The Estate of Michael Jackson was never consulted about, nor is it involved in, the Jackson Family museum being proposed in Gary, Indiana. Michael Jackson's music, name, likeness, memorabilia and other intellectual property are assets exclusively owned by the Estate for the benefit of his children, his mother during her lifetime and charities as specified in his will," said Howard Weitzman, the attorney for Jackson's estate, in a statement. "The Estate has no connection to this project."

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