Tickets for Michael Jackson's run of 50 O2 Arena shows in London sold out in hours today (March 13) after the general sale opened to the public.

Promoters AEG Live and Ticketmaster said in a statement that a total of 750,000 tickets have now been sold, following the pre-sale to registered fans on March 11.

Tickets were selling at an average rate of 40,000 an hour when they became available to the general public at 7am GMT today. There were also queues of fans from around the world buying tickets in person at the venue.

"We often talk about unprecedented demand, but this week we have witnessed a live entertainment phenomenon," said Chris Edmonds, managing director, Ticketmaster U.K., in a statement. "We have seen a truly amazing level of interest and demand for tickets from fans from across the world for the Michael Jackson shows at the O2 over the last three days.

"This was undoubtedly the busiest demand for tickets for an event which we have ever experienced."

Randy Phillips, president and CEO of AEG Live, added: "The last week has been the most astonishing I have seen in my career in the entertainment business."

As previously reported (Billboard.biz, March 12), AEG Live has run into problems with its secondary ticket deal with Viagogo. The company is the official secondary ticket market provider for Jackson tickets, but Phillip says Viagogo "did something really bad" by offering packages and seats to brokers and touts in London. AEG Live is taking legal action to ensure they only allow tickets to be bought by fans from the Web site. Viagogo did not comment.

Meanwhile, U.K. entertainment retailer HMV is reporting that sales of Michael Jackson's greatest hits album "King Of Pop" (Sony Music Entertainment) have shown a four-fold increase at HMV stores in the U.K. and Ireland and online following the announcement of his O2 concerts. Sales for "Thriller" (Legacy/Epic) are up by 80%.

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