With a Broadway musical on the way and a guest spot on one of the year’s biggest albums, the King of Pop’s legacy is proving lasting -- and lucrative.
When Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009, the executors of his estate, John McClain and John Branca, felt that their No. 1 job "was to generate revenue, pay off debt and enhance Michael’s legacy as an artist, not the tabloid sensation," says Branca.
As the estate gears up to stage Michael Jackson’s Diamond Celebration in Las Vegas on Aug. 29, the day the King of Pop would have turned 60, Branca says that a series of recent deals both large and small are easily taking care of business. This summer, the estate picked up $287.5 million on what sources say was a $50,000 investment as part of the consortium that bought EMI Music Publishing in 2012. With that catalog now worth $4.75 billion, Sony, which owned nearly 30 percent of EMI, agreed to buy out the estate’s 10 percent. Since Jackson put up about $17.5 million in equity and $30 million in debt to buy the ATV catalog for $47.5 million in 1985, the estate, aided by its investment bank Shot Tower Capital, has earned nearly $1.6 billion on that investment, Billboard estimates.
Also, given that the estate owns Jackson’s master recordings as well as his publishing rights, Billboard calculates that it earns about $10 million in annual royalties from his recordings in the United States alone, not including synch deals or bonuses that may have been in his recording contracts. Worldwide, the estate earns an estimated $20 million to $25 million a year on the recordings.