Michael Jackson’s estate has made more money through ticket sales in the four years since his death than the "Thriller" performer made during his lifetime. His posthumous sales are believed to amount to more than any single living artist during the same time period.
Jackson's estate has earned $600 million since his death in 2009. Contributing factors include ticket sales for Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson’s One and profits from the film of Jackson’s concert performances This Is It, according to US documentary Michael Jackson 60 Minutes.
John Branca, a co-executor on Jackson’s will, told US TV channel CBS: “Worldwide box office now is over $300 million. And Michael has almost 60 million Facebook friends. He’s the biggest selling artist on iTunes and he’s sold approximately 50 million albums since he passed away.”
Jackson had debts of approximately $500 million before he died. Zach O’Malley Greenburg, a Forbes reporter who has covered Jackson’s estate in depth, said: “He never stopped spending like it was the 1980s…he was making 50, 60, 80, over 100 million dollars into the 90s."
“But after the first charge of assault in 1993 he became radioactive. He didn’t tour again in the [mainland] US, brands dropped him from their commercials…and the upkeep of Neverland really added up.
"Since Michael Jackson died the estate has taken over $600 million in four years, and that's more than any single living artist made over that period of time."
To try and settle his debt, Jackson continued to borrow against his assets, including the rights to The Beatles songs which he bought for $47.5 million and later merged with a Sony publishing company to create Sony ATV music. His estate still owns 50 per cent of the company.
As stated in Jackson’s will, he intended 20 per cent of his estate to go to charity, 40 per cent to his children and 40 per cent to go to his mother as long as she was alive.
“The whole objective of Michael’s estate plan is to take care of his mother during her lifetime and to accumulate the principle and assets for the benefit of Michael’s children,” said Branca.
Prince Michael, Paris and Michael Jr are also entitled to sell Jackson’s possessions, which currently sit in five warehouses, when they come of age.
The possessions include Jackson’s 30 year car collection, antiques and videogames from the Neverland Ranch and the black sequined jacket he wore in the video for “Billie Jean”.
Michael Jackson died of a cardiac arrest in June 2009 after an overdose of prescription drugs, termed "acute propofol intoxication".
Jackson's mother Katherine is suing concert promoters AEG Live for negligence in an ongoing civil case, claiming the firm was responsible for hiring Conrad Murray, the star's personal doctor, who was convicted of manslaughter in 2011 and is serving four years in jail.