When Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009, of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles at age 50, the pop music icon left behind tons of memorabilia. Now that memorabilia could slip through the hands of the late singer’s estate.
MJ Estate Details
Jackson did have estate planning in place, leaving behind a trust, which left Jackson’s three children (Prince, Paris, and Blanket) $33 million each. His mother, Katherine Jackson, was to receive her share of the estate immediately, and any portion remaining at her time of death with it being split between the children.
Before his death, Jackson had a $500 million net worth, but also carried heavy debt. He went bankrupt after requesting a $380 million loan from Bank of America to maintain his lifestyle. He went through the loan paying for expenses, and the “50% interest imposed by the bank turned the debt into $500 million,” Marca reported. This left his estate in peril. But he did hold several assets, such as ownership of the masters for the legendary group The Beatles. He had bought the masters in 1985 for $47 million. Ten years later, Jackson sold 50 percent to Sony for $95 million. (In 2016, Sony paid the estate $750 million for more of stake of catalog.)
Since his death, Jackson’s estate has brought in over $700 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Estate Versus Jeffré Phillips
The estate has gone to court to ask a judge to seal documents that reveal the location of some of the late pop star’s memorabilia, RadarOnline.com reported.
Jackson’s estate wants to have seal filings made in its legal battle with LaToya Jacson’s ex-fiancé Jeffré Phillips. LaToya is one of the King of Pop’s eight siblings. Previously, the estate was granted an injunction against Phillips.
According to the estate, Phillips stole some of Jackson’s personal property in the days after his death. Among the items believed stolen from Jackson’s home are Jackson’s iPhone, driver’s license, prescription pill bottles with pills, pajamas, handwritten notes, a briefcase with papers, video cameras and multiple computers.
MJ’s Death and his Possessions
Phillips, who dated LaToya from 1995 to 2015, did later admit that he took the property, but he said MJ’s mother, Katherine, asked him to do so.
The day that Jackson was rushed to the hospital, LaToya and Phillips were summoned to the property, Phillips said — hours later after MJ was pronounced dead. This is when, Phillips said, Katherine told him to gather what “personal property we could, such Mr. Jackson’s phones, Driver’s License, and the clothing he wore on the night he passed amongst several other personal items.”
“I have never sold a single Carolwood Item nor have I publicly displayed them,” Phillips said in court documents, RadarOnline reported. “I have never lied about having the Carolwood Items or otherwise concealed the fact that I kept the Carolwood Items in storage. Jackson’s family members knew I had these items.”
The Battle over Memorabilia
Then in 2021, Phillips said a representative from the estate visited him and asked to see the memorabilia he had in his possession. The estate wanted to see if Phillips was attempting to sell the items, which he denies.
Phillips told the court that “had the Estate simply asked for the property and not resorted to the premeditated set-up and bullying tactics, I would have called LaToya to inform her that the Estate was requesting the items, and the two of us would have then called her mother.”
“Although the property was given to me and belonged to me, I would not have refused a request for the property from the Jackson family,” he added.
For his part, Phillips asked the court to publicly seal certain filings that contained his home address. He argued that “Given the high-profile nature of this case, in conjunction with my portrayal in the media, I am extremely concerned about my personal safety.”
MJ’s estate agreed to seal certain parts of the filings Phillips requested. “Given the potential value of the property at issue and the possibility that a person may attempt to locate and steal that property, the Co-Executors respectfully request that those portions of Exhibit D that may disclose the current location of the property be redacted from the public record,” the estate said.
“For better and for worse, the interest in all things Michael Jackson remains very high even thirteen-plus years after his untimely passing,” the motion reads. “The Court can certainly take judicial notice of this. And although the risk that someone might attempt to steal the property may not be particularly high, it also cannot be dismissed outright as paranoid speculation.”
The estate added, “The unfortunate fact is that people steal valuable property all the time. The costs of the property being stolen would likely be irreparable as that could mean that the property is lost forever.”
The case goes to court later this year.