Prior to Michael Jackson’s death, the King of Pop was reportedly $500 million in debt. Years of excessive spending coupled with his withdrawal from the stage had carved a financial hole so massive, Jackson was in danger of having to sell his lucrative stake in Sony ATV publishing and foreclose Neverland Ranch to break even with his army of lenders. A sizeable chunk of the pop star’s financial burden was going to be alleviated by his planned run of 50 “This Is It” concerts at London’s O2 Arena. However, since the singer’s death a year ago, the King of Pop’s assets have grossed more than $1 billion, Billboard reports, thanks largely to a new record contract with Sony, renewed interest in his catalog and the concert rehearsal documentary This Is It, already the most successful film of its kind in history.
According to Billboard, nearly half of the $1 billion gross comes from music sales, as Jackson’s catalog surged to the tune of 33 million units sold worldwide since Michael passed away on June 25th, 2009. Factor in another 800,000 copies of Jackson 5 albums sold stateside, 12.9 million digital downloads and 1.5 ringtone downloads and Jackson’s music sales eclipse $429 million in the past year. With greatest hits collections and albums’ worth of unreleased material planned for release as soon as this November, this number will no doubt rise. Jackson’s concert film This Is It also made $260 million in domestic and foreign box office, plus another $43 million from DVD sales since its January 2010 release. AEG Live, the company staging Jackson’s This Is It run in London, received $35 million from the box office to recoup what they spent on the production, but the Jackson family received 90 percent of the gross after that, Billboard reports.
Jackson’s half-stake of Sony ATV Publishing, which owns the music of the Beatles and other legendary artists, as well as Jackson’s own Mijac publishing company, have helped bring in $130 million for the estate, plus another $35 million from licensing that includes This Is It tour paraphernalia and, as Rolling Stone previously reported, the video game Michael Jackson: The Game, which is due later this year. Finally, the Jackson estate’s massive new contract with Sony, which calls for reissues, best-of collections and unreleased material to be released over the stretch of 10 albums through 2017, adds another $31 million of its $250 million deal to the Estate this year alone.
Although the billion-dollar revenue arrives under tragic circumstances, it also couldn’t have come at better time for the estate: According to the Wall Street Journal, a $300 million loan that Michael Jackson owed to lenders Barclays PLC, who refinanced a loan Jackson originally owed to Fortress Investment Group, is due by the end of the year. The debt previously topped $500 million, but $200 million has already been paid back from the billion-dollar revenue in order to avoid foreclosure of the Beverly Hills compound where Jackson’s mother Katherine and the King of Pop’s three children live. As part of the loan from Barclays PLC, Jackson offered up his half-stake in the Sony ATV publishing at $250 million, which is actually valued at $2 billion. The Wall Street Journal analyzes just how dire Jackson’s debt situation was at the time of his death as he faced creditors, unpaid bills and enormous interest rates.
In other Jackson news, Katherine has authored a new book featuring 150 unseen personal photographs titled Never Can Say Goodbye: The Katherine Jackson Archives, Showbiz411 reports. The coffee table book was reportedly a personal endeavor for Katherine, who opted against signing what would have been a high-paying book deal in order to self-publish Never Can Say Goodbye herself. “I wanted to release a tribute book about Michael to thank his fans for all their love and support over the years,” Katherine said on the Jackson Secret Vault site, where the book is for sale now. “My son has been misunderstood and this was my way to share what kind of person he really was.”