24 May 2006
Ever since the grueling 13-weeks long child molestation trial ended with Michael Jackson’s acquittal (June 14th 2005) in a Californian court, fans of the superstar are finding it more and more difficult to track the evolution of their idol. The trial was the climax of what Michael Jackson supporters saw as the harassment of this talented musical legend in his American homeland. “They didn’t treat him right here. I know if I was him, I wouldn’t come back”. Michael’s father was reported to comment on the decision of his son to move and settle in the Middle Eastern kingdom of Bahrain.
In his last public statement about two weeks before the he left for Bahrain, Michael thanked his fans, family and friends for standing by him during the trial. “Without God, my children, my family and you, my fans, I could not have made it through. Your love, support and loyalty made it all possible.” He said.
Michael Jackson reportedly traveled to Bahrain on June 30th 2005 with his children. His attorney Thomas A. Mesereau Jr. was quoted in October 2005 as saying this about his Bahrain stay; “[Michael Jackson] is looking much better. He’s with his children, and he is moving on in life.” Adding; “He is living permanently in Bahrain. He has friends there who have been very loyal and helpful to him in a difficult period of his life.”
At that particular time, evidence was emerging that Michael Jackson’s financial empire was heading for trouble. The financial headaches were not going to be Jackson’s only worry during his Bahrain stay. There were unconfirmed reports that the notorious Santa Barbara prosecutor (Tom Sneddon) that failed to nail Michael on Child molestation charges last summer was considering new charges against him related to drugs. The Sun Online in its May 17th article quoted an unnamed source close to the family as reacting to such a prospect by saying; “Michael would fight this in court but none of us knows if he could cope with another investigation.” Adding; “Sneddon is obsessed with bringing him down. This is not justice, it’s witch-hunt.”
Michael’s Shaky Finances
Once reputed to be the richest musician in the world, Michael Jackson was reportedly heading for bankruptcy towards the end of 2005. A recent New York Times article detailed the financial troubles of the pop star. Michael Jackson’s financial problems apparently started when much money began to flow into his hands especially from the eighties. He reportedly went on a spending spree that included investing in some unsuccessful ventures. His most successful investment however, was the 1985 purchase of the back music catalogue that included some 251 famous Beatles tunes for $47.5million. He eventually merged this company with a smaller outfit owned by Sony. Michael acquired a 50% stake in the merged company now called Sony/ATV. Meanwhile during the course of time, Michael reportedly used his stake in the company as collateral for a $270million in bank loans he contracted. He was alleged to have used this borrowed money lavishly to acquire expensive and prestigious assets like the California ranch, his Neverland home and other items of luxury like antiques and paintings. “I think that Michael never had any concept of fiscal responsibility, or logical fiscal responsibility. He was an individual that had been overindulged by those that represented him or worked for him for all his life. There was no planning in terms of allocations of how much he should spend. For Michael, it was whatever he wanted at the time he wanted.” Said Alvin Malnik-a former Michael Jackson financial adviser. In various calculations deduced from testimonies during his trial and interviews granted by his aides, it was estimated that Michael used between $7m to $8million annually for personal expenses and $4m to $5million for the upkeep of Neverland and its staff. Because Sony was afraid of the prospects of pairing with an unknown business partner in the event that Michael Jackson files for bankruptcy, she decided to negotiate with Michael to accept a proposed rescue package that will give him breathing space and at the same time ward off predators that were having their eyes on Michael’s share of Sony/ATV. The deal reportedly involved Sony buying part of Michael Jackson’s share in the venture in order to provide Michael some cash to service his debts. The negotiations that started last December ended in April 2006 with Michael said to be retaining 25% share of the now $1 billion Sony/ATV. A statement released on allmichaeljackson.com on April 14th read; Michael has “restructured his finances with the assistance of Sony Corporation of America”. Some observers see this deal as a temporary reprieve and not a definitive solution to Michael Jackson’s debt entanglement.
Prior to the deal being reached, Fox News reported in March that Janet Jackson (Michael’s junior sister) had to cough out some money to settle bills of employees at their Encino family home and restore insurance that had lapsed on Neverland. She reportedly made about $80,000 in mortgage payments to prevent private investors from foreclosing on their family home. These bills, it is said were usually settled by Michael.
Life Goes On Regardless
Meanwhile as fans yearn to know more about Michael Jackson, they are usually fed with conflicting reports. A section of the press alleges that Michael is becoming more and more reclusive and takes many pain relieving and anti-depression medication. He is even rumored to be increasingly isolating himself from family and staff. On the contrary information coming from the family and aides indicate that Michael is doing fine. His father, his brother Jermaine and his lawyers have of recent all issued different statements refuting false stories about Michael and complaining of the harassment of the star and his family. “Our family has been manipulated and taken advantage of for a very long time and it’s time that this destructive maligning of our character stops. The Jackson Family will no longer stand still and be a punching bag for the press to hit below the belt.” Said Joseph Jackson (Michael’s father) in a statement released March 7 2006. Meanwhile Michael plans to continue with his musical career and insiders say a record by Michael in honor of Katrina victims will soon be released. Michael Jackson is also said to be working on an album with entire new songs that is scheduled for release in 2007. In January there were reports that he was being considered for a position of entertainment consultant with a company based in Bahrain that is connected to the royal family. There were equally unconfirmed reports that he secretly returned to the U.S in March. Despite these conflicting signals, many fans are hoping that Michael Jackson will bounce back someday. Most of the people I spoke to do sympathize with his predicament and they generally wish him well wherever he is. As one lady put it; “This man brought smiles to many children and adults alike for many years. He deserves same in return from all of us especially now that he is being persecuted by his own compatriots.”
Njei Moses Timah