LOS ANGELES — Despite more than $310 million in earnings since his death, Michael Jackson’s lavish spending habits still haunt his legacy and have required lawyers to create new deals and restructure old debts, court records show.
Jackson died more than $400 million in debt, and attorneys are still trying to resolve several pending lawsuits, according to documents filed Thursday by his estate.
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The report also states Jackson’s estate spent $159 million between the singer’s June 2009 death and the end of 2010, with some of the money used for his funeral, burial and to buy the Jackson family’s home in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles.
According to the filing, many of Jackson’s debts, including his interests in a music catalog that features works by The Beatles and other top-earning musicians, have been restructured.
While Jackson’s attorneys have resolved numerous debts and lawsuits, several cases are still unresolved, including disputes over Jackson’s “Thriller” music video.
Since soon after the pop singer’s death at age 50, attorneys began working on deals to begin to restore luster to Jackson’s legacy, which had been tarnished even though he was acquitted of child molestation charges.
Projects have included the release of “This Is It,” a film using rehearsal footage from Jackson’s planned series of comeback shows; new music and video games; and the rerelease of the singer’s autobiography.
An audit of the singer’s earnings for already released music is under way and could yield more profits, the filings state.
Experts say Jackson’s estate earnings are likely to rival those of another music superstar, Elvis Presley.
Most of the earnings benefit Jackson’s three young children and his mother, Katherine, who is their guardian. Renovations on her home, valued at more than $4.1 million, are ongoing.
A judge will review the financial report, which is the first complete accounting of the King of Pop’s financial affairs after his death. That hearing is scheduled for May 5.
Jackson’s estate attorneys say the judge should expect to retain oversight of the estate for at least another year after that.