Michael Jackson faced more bad news yesterday after a Californian court ordered him to pay $5.3m (£3.35m) in damages to a German music promoter for failing to appear at two concerts planned for the eve of the new millennium.
Marcel Avram, a promoter, had been seeking $21m in compensation and punitive damages, and still intends to appeal to the courts to try to wrest a further $6m.The jury found for the promoter after two weeks of deliberation.
The case was a public relations disaster for Mr Jackson, who had trouble answering even the most basic questions in court, claimed numerous instances of memory loss, and on one occasion simply failed to show up. Much of the media coverage focused on his appearance – his alarmingly raw-looking nose, and his insistence on turning up for the hearing on crutches, even though he was seen walking perfectly normally when the television cameras were not trained on him.
Skip Miller, Mr Avram's lawyer, said: "The jury believed Avram. They did not believe Michael Jackson. That's what the whole thing comes down to."
Zia Modabber, Mr Jackson's lawyer, said: "He's fine with it. He stood up for himself and went to trial and Mr Avram didn't get nearly what he wanted."
Repeated media reports, including a profile in next month's Vanity Fair, have suggested Mr Jackson is in deep financial trouble and has relied on multimillion-dollar loans to remain solvent. The Vanity Fair piece also alleges Mr Jackson paid witch doctors to perform voodoo rituals against his enemies in the entertainment industry and to create money out of thin air.
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