Michael Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and philanthropist.
Michael’s music library was his most valuable possession at the time of his death. The copyright value of his songs was estimated to be $100 million, but his collection of other artists’ songs, especially those by The Beatles, was the crown jewel of his wealth. In the early 1980s, Michael bought the music catalogues of Sly and the Family Stone.
This was the first time he owned music rights. He then bought several classic singles, such as “Great Balls of Fire,” “Shake Rattle Rattle and Roll,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and “Runaround Sue.” But Michael’s biggest win came in November 1984, when he spent $47.5 million to buy The Beatles’ music from ATV. The Beatles catalogue was eventually combined with Sony to form a 50/50 partnership called Sony/ATV, which is considered worth between $2 and $4 billion today.
When you buy the Beatles
In 1984, Robert Holmes had all of The Beatles’ songs. The Australian business mogul put it up for sale through his company, ATV Music Publishing, which owned the rights to about 4,000 songs and had a division called Northern Songs, which was The Beatles’ music publishing arm. At the beginning of their careers, Paul McCartney and John Lennon signed a terrible contract that gave Northern Songs the rights to publish more than 250 songs. In 1984, Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono had the chance to buy the Beatles catalogue, but they decided not to because it cost $40 million.
Michael Jackson, 25 at the time, had just had a huge hit with Thriller and was in the middle of a two-year shopping spree for music publishing rights. Between 1982 and 1984, he spent a lot of money buying publishing rights for songs by Sly and the Family Stone, Great Balls of Fire, When a Man Loves a Woman, and Runaround Sue, to name a few. For a long time, John Branca, Michael Jackson’s lawyer, heard that the ATV/The Beatles catalogue was for sale and talked to Michael about buying it. Michael told him to go all out, so Jackson and Branca made an offer of $47.5 million, which is about $115 million in today’s money. The highest bid was $40 million.
Michael could then licence any Beatles song, which he did in 1987 when he sold the rights to Revolution to Nike for $500,000. Jackson got $250,000 from the deal, while McCartney and Lennon each got $125,000 because they still owned the songwriter’s royalties.
Bringing in Sony
In 1995, Sony talked to Michael and made him a fantastic offer. Sony offered to pay him $95 million (about $230 million today) to combine ATV music with their catalogue and make a new publishing powerhouse that was owned equally by both companies. Michael agreed, and right away he got back twice what he had put in. He also got a 50% stake in a much bigger music publishing company. Through a separate company called Mijac Music, Jackson still had full control over all of his own songs.
The new Jackson/Sony company would be called Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and it would grow to 200,000 songs over the next ten years. Between 2005 and 2013, Sony/ATV grew to own two million songs, including Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan, Beck, and Eminem’s catalogues and songs. The company made $1.25 billion from licencing and royalties and had a $500 million profit in 2012. The company is worth between $2 and $4 billion right now.
Money made and money spent
Jackson made about $500 million from his music, concerts, videos, and endorsements during his life, but when he died in 2009, he was $500 million in debt. Jackson was broke because he spent all of his money on a very complicated and expensive living. He spent between $30 million and $50 million a year on his lifestyle alone and owed his lawyers, agents, and publicists a lot of money he never paid. A few things to note:
- $17 million to buy the Neverland Ranch and $5 million yearly to keep it in good shape.
- $20 million to settle a lawsuit about sexual abuse of a child.
- $65 million on different video projects, including “Ghosts,” a 35-minute movie he wrote with Stephen King.
- Debbie Rowe and Tom Cruise reached a $12 million divorce settlement.
- He had to pay $5 million in interest on his debts yearly.
- Tens of millions of dollars were spent on things like Bentleys, antiques, art, clothes, chimpanzees, gloves with diamonds, and other small items.
- Jackson took out a $380 million loan against the value of his music library to pay for his lavish lifestyle. The pop star was known to be wrong with money and thought he was worth a lot more than he really was. Near the end of his life, he got into a series of bad financial deals with banks, hedge funds, and other shady people to keep up his lifestyle and try to make a comeback in his career and finances. Before he died, Michael had spent the entire $380 million loan and had little chance of being able to pay back the principal or interest. This debt was the main reason Michael had to go on the “This Is It” tour, which some people say led to his death.
Who got Michael Jackson’s property when he died?
Since Michael Jackson’s death, the people in charge of his estate have worked hard to make money. One of their main goals was to get the estate back on track financially so they wouldn’t have to sell his favourite music collection.
Michael said his three children should get 40% of his wealth in his will. Another 20% went to different charities for children, and the last 40% went to his mother, Katherine. When Katherine dies, the remaining 40% goes to Michael’s kids, which means that in the end, his three kids will share 80% of the estate.
How much did Michael Jackson make?
Michael Jackson had a negative net worth of $500 million at the time of his death according to the Mexico gazette. He was an American singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and philanthropist. Technically, you could say that Michael was $500 million in debt at the time of his death because he had spent and borrowed too much for decades. He has sold more than 750 million albums so far. Of those, 35 million were sold in the year after he died.
Michael Jackson made between $50 million and $100 million a year by touring, selling records, getting endorsements, and selling merchandise from 1985 to 1995. Michael spent the money as quickly as he earned it, which was a shame. His expensive way of life cost him about $50 million a year. He gave Debbie Rowe, his baby mama, $12 million and paid $20 million to settle a child molestation case.
He also spent tens of millions on lawyers. It cost $19.5 million to buy Neverland Ranch and a huge $10 million a year to keep it up. He spent $35 million turning the compound into his place to have fun. Then there were the Bentleys, antiques, art, exotic animals, and those famous gloves with diamonds. Jackson also put between $50 million and $100 million into movies and music projects that were never made.
Jackson is still one of the world’s most famous and wealthy people, even after he died.
What Jackson’s Estate Is Worth After His Death
In a strange way, Michael’s finances are probably better off now than before he died. Since he died on June 25, 2009, he has been the highest-earning dead celebrity on the planet every year. Michael’s executors started to fix up the pop star’s finances almost as soon as he died. They sold Michael’s future music rights to Sony for $250 million. At the time, this was the biggest record deal ever made.
His lawyers also went through thousands of hours of home videos from the last year of his life to make a movie called “This Is It,” which was shown in theatres worldwide. The movie has made more than $500 million so far. After the movie and record deal did well, many other endorsers got in touch. Pepsi agreed to use Michael’s picture. Cirque du Solei made two shows in Las Vegas based on his music and look.
On both shows, the estate of Michael Jackson is a 50/50 partner with Cirque du Solei. Michael Jackson also left behind tens of thousands of personal items and pieces of memorabilia that are being kept in three huge warehouses in Southern California. The items will be kept until all three of his children turn 18. At that time, they can decide what to keep and what to sell at auction.