Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Superstar Broke and Broken

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Superstar Broke and Broken

Article excerpt


MICHAEL JACKSON was today facing financial meltdown, despite being cleared of all charges of child molestation.

Although the singer walked victorious from court, his reputation lies in tatters. There is no apparent way for him to re-establish his position as the king of pop, leaving him with a profligate spending habit but a declining income.

Jackson's perilous financial situation was laid bare during the trial.

His best-selling albums, a property portfolio including the Neverland ranch and a wise investment in a company which owns the back catalogue to virtually all the Beatles songs should have assured that Jackson remained one of pop's wealthiest stars.

But his income did not keep pace with his extravagant lifestyle - with the prosecution describing his spending habits as those of "a billionaire on a millionaire's budget".

He has to spend thousands to maintain his lifestyle, thousands more paying his entourage - and even reputedly had a 10,000 dollar ([pounds sterling]6,700) monthly charge from a Beverly Hills chemist.

Forensic accountant John Duross O'Bryan told the court Jackson had only $38,000 in the bank in February 2003 - with debts totalling almost $300 million.

He said Jackson was regularly spending $20 million to $30 million a year more than he was earning, and his debt rose by $70 million between 1999 and February 2003. In June 2002, O'Bryan said Jackson had $130 million in assets and liabilities of $415 million - resulting in a net worth of minus $285 million ([pounds sterling]162 million).

But O'Bryan pointed out that the figures were on a cash basis - and did not take into account how much his assets had gained in value.

O'Bryan gave jurors a breakdown of Jackson's spending from the 1999 financial year - again taken from a memo to the singer.

He said Jackson received $11.5 million that year - nearly all from royalties on the two song catalogues. But the star allegedly spent $20 million - $5 million legal fees, $5 million in security and ranch fees, $7. …

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