Jackson’s Debt

BATD ON Jun 26, 2009 AT 12:00 pm

Michael Jackson was in debt

Michael Jackson was in debt

The King of Pop was a world-class pauper when he died — he was $500 million in debt. That didn’t stop him from living large — he was staying in a $100,000-a-month rental when he died, and had been taking out loans on some of his biggest assets, including the catalog of Beatles songs he had snapped up from Paul McCartney in the late 1980s.

 Once one of the world’s richest entertainers, Jackson dug himself into a deep financial hole with a combination of reckless spending and massive legal problems at a time when his record sales were plummeting. In 2005, an accountant said Jackson was spending $20 million to $30 million more a year than he was taking in. That mountain of debt forced him out of his amusement park-style home, Neverland Ranch, and left its contents on the auction block earlier this year. Neverland became notorious amid allegations that Jackson molested young boys he had hosted for sleepovers there. He paid the family of one boy a reported $23 million. He also was accused of molesting a boy there in 2003. He was acquitted. His cash depleted after the trial, Jackson went to live in Bahrain as the guest of Sheik Abdullah, who later sued him for $7 million, charging that the singer backed out of a business deal.

Michael owed about $500 million

Michael owed about $500 million

It’s unclear how much will be left in his estate. Jackson had planned a series of comeback concerts, stated to begin in London next month, to replenish his cash flow, and the London Mirror reported that he left the Beatles catalog to McCartney to make amends. The shocking news of the King of Pop’s sudden death yesterday sparked so much Web traffic that Google’s news-link Web site had to put a temporary block on “Michael Jackson” search requests.

Google’s computers incorrectly interpreted the flood of requests as a “denial of service” attack meant to crash the news site.  The flood of chatter and tributes did bring down sites across the World Wide Web. The superstar’s home page barely functioned after the announcement. Eventually, the site’s links were removed, leaving only a depiction of Jackson in his trademark white T-shirt and black jacket and hat shown against a blood-red background with the words: “King of Pop.” Also inaccessible was the home page for London’s O2 concert venue, where Jackson was set to kick off an epic, 50-date tour next month. Three of the top five searches on Google last night related to Jackson.

Twitter also was abuzz when rumors of the pop star’s death — the subject of hundreds of thousands of blog postings — first began to circulate late yesterday afternoon. “Michael Jackson was wheeled into the emergency room on a stretcher according to X17Online,” one frantic tweeter posted on the MJJ news site. The swirl of Web traffic was so intense that a rumor of another celebrity’s death, Jeff Goldblum, spread like wildfire and had to be quashed by the actor’s publicist.

Click here to see what his fellow celebrities had to say about him.

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