Michael Jackson: A billion-dollar business

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Michael JacksonMichael Jackson was a global icon, whose impact on the music and entertainment industry will be hard to emulate. During his long career, Jackson’s cross over appeal catapulted him into legendary status with the release of 1982’s Thriller. Jackson, 50, died of cardiac arrest at his home in California yesterday.

His music career was a financial success story from record sales, popularity, and as a trailblazer in the music video industry.
In a March 2009 article titled “Why Michael Jackson should Be In Your Portfolio,” Smartmoney.com alerted “investors with any disposable income or risk capital left” to the potential values at April 22-25 auction of  Michael Jackson’s personal property  at the Beverly Hills Hilton.

“Michael Jackson is arguably the most influential visual artist of the last 100 years and certainly the defining one of the video age. For Generation X and Generation Y, Michael Jackson is an unparalleled icon, bigger than Frank Sinatra,”  the article said.

Of the 2,000 items to be auctioned, much of the merchandise is recognizable Jackson costumes, including one of his white “sparkle” gloves (estimated at $10,000) and the costume worn in the 1991 video for “Black or White” (est. $500).

The MTV Video Award “Moonman” statue awarded to Jackson as Artist of the Decade in 1990 has a pre-auction estimate of $8,000. Imagine the value of those items today!

Here are some of the reasons why Jackson is a billion-dollar business:

1. Won 13 Grammys and sold more than 61 million albums in the U.S
2. The Walt Disney Co. hitched its wagon to his star in 1986, opening a 3-D movie at its parks called “Captain EO,”
3. Drove the growth of music videos
4. Vaulted the start-up cable channel MTV into the popular mainstream with his 1982 “Thriller” album; Thriller is the second-best selling album of all time;
5. The value of the YouTube video of Thriller is $174, 619.65, according to Weblo.com, which tracks digital assets;
6. “Bad” which came out in 1987, sold 22 million copies;
7. Signed a a $65 million recording deal with Sony in 1991;
8. In 1985, he acquired  ATV Music, which owned the copyright to songs written by the Beatles’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney for $47.5 million;
9. He bought the sprawling Neverland ranch in 1988 for $14.6 million, a fantasy-like 2,500-acre property nestled in the hills of Santa Barbara County’s wine country;
10. In 1995 he merged ATV with Sony’s library of songs and sold Sony music publishing rights for $95 million.

As news of his death spread globally, Internet music sites such as Amazon.com and iTunes saw a dramatic jump in hits to their sites. Album’s such as Off the Wall, Thrilled and Bad were in the Top 20 search. At the time of his death on June 25, he was in debt for an estimated $500 million, including a $200 million loan secured against his biggest asset – a 50 percent interest in the publishing rights to his own music and 251 compositions by The Beatles. That 50 percent stake alone is valued at an estimated $500 million, enough to pay off the alleged debt.