The eccentric singer began at the age of 6 with his brothers as the lead singer of the border-breaking quintet, The Jackson Five. The group found success throughout the ’70s with hits like “I Want You Back” and “ABC,” but as Jackson grew from child star to teen idol, he yearned for his own stardom and embarked on a solo career.
With the release of his fifth solo album “Off The Wall” in 1979, Jackson finally established himself as a solo artist to be reckoned with.
Like his dance moves, Michael Jackson’s rise to fame seemed to defy gravity, and his magnum opus, “Thriller,” followed in 1982, propelling the singer to a level of superstardom previously known only to Elvis Presley. , The Beatles and Frank Sinatra, and enjoyed all the riches that came with it.
It is believed that Jackson earned more than $1.1 billion throughout his music career. but when he sang about being “bad” on his 1987 album of the same name, he might as well have been referring to his ability to balance a checkbook.
It seems unlikely that an artist who sold more than 750 million records during his career could find himself in such a precarious financial situation, but by all accounts, the King of Pop is said to be he died broke.
Michael Jackson had a spending problem
Unfortunately, the ’90s weren’t kind to Jackson, and the singer had a spending problem.
According to Billboard, Jackson annually received royalties from his music catalog, which included the greatest hits of The Beatles, but it wasn’t enough to keep him out of debt. It would not be until the singer’s wrongful death trial in 2011 that his dangerous financial situation became known.
According to the Los Angeles Times, forensic accountant William Ackerman testified during the trial that the King of Pop had an insatiable taste for consumption. “He spent a lot of money on jewelry,” Ackerman claimed, further implying that the singer spent a king’s ransom to maintain his prized Neverland Ranch, which he called “a mini theme park” because of its maintenance staff, zoo and train.
Mirror UK also described Jackson’s frequent spending sprees, one of which included a 2008 trip to a London department store where the singer reportedly spent more than $100,000 in 15 minutes. He reportedly flipped through catalogs, only to buy all the items offered, and allegedly spent $75,000 on a limited-edition perfume contained in a platinum, gold, and diamond bottle.
Michael Jackson had to pay his accuser and borrowed millions
Michael Jackson was notoriously accused of child sexual abuse by 13-year-old Jordie Chandler in 1993.
According to CNN, Jackson paid approximately $25 million to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the boy in 1994.
“That represents the beginning of the walk down a tragic road, financially, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and legally,” said his publicist Michael Levine (via Billboard).
According to the Los Angeles Times, Jackson began borrowing large sums of money at the time of the indictment. William Ackerman testified during the singer’s wrongful death trial that his biggest expense came from the interest on his loans, with Jackson paying $30 million annually of his debts at the time of his death.
The outlet added that Jackson owed $30 million from 1993, which grew to $140 million in 1998. His debt only increased from 2001 to 2009, with Jackson adding $170 million in financial obligations. At the time of his death in 2009, the singer had reportedly found himself in a financial hole to the tune of $400 million.