Sep 03 2010

Sony and AEG: They Had Him Trapped in ‘Financial Bondage’ (Updated)

Category: Justice,Photos,QuotesSeven @ 7:56 pm

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NEW INTRO added 9/03/2012: This piece is based on what we’ve been told by some who were there, on information in a few books that have been published, and on some articles and documents that we’ve seen (for instance,the contract between MJJ and AEG). It may not be exactly right but my guess is that it’s pretty close.  I’ve decided to re-share it in consideration of an article just published about some leaked AEG emails before/during preparations for “This Is It“. Those emails are very telling. The article of course has a snotty, negative, media slant as most do about Michael, and the timing of its publication is suspect – it appeared within 48 hours of the 25th anniversary of the release of Michael’s “BAD” album and Spike Lee’s fantastic “BAD 25” film about the making of that album. However, those leaked emails are undeniable fact. The undeniable fact is that AEG knew there were issues with Michael’s physical and emotional wellbeing and they tried to hide them. They required those working for them to hide them (lie) about what was going on, while also trying to coerce Lloyds of London to forego required physical examinations required for their insurance coverage. Why would they do that if there was nothing to hide?

The article is here: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-aeg-jackson-20120902,1597,4847317.story?page=1   Why would “AEG’s insurance broker” try to “persuade Lloyd’s to drop the  physical” in London if Michael Jackson was perfectly fit and able?

Most chilling, the last sentence of the article reads: “Michael’s death is a terrible tragedy, but life must go on. AEG will make a fortune…”  Thus, it seems loss of MJ’s life was just “collateral damage” in this whole business deal. The indifference is stunning.

The following is what I wrote about this situation exactly two years ago, and given what we see in the LATimes article in those leaked emails (nevermind the rest of it and the interesting timing of the article), it may not be too far off the mark:

Like a dancing marionette in a cage, they had him trapped. I’ve written before about corporate parasitism and abuse, and particularly the abuse of black artists. In the last couple of days I’ve become aware of some very informative blog entries from other people who are investigating the contracts and legal agreements between Michael Jackson (Company LLC), $ony, and AEG. I provide details here to help shed light on the actual content of some of these agreements and contracts. If these accounts are true, we can see how unfair (and even duplicitous) they were to Michael, targeting him during the weakest financial points in his life, in an effort to gain or re-gain control of his most valuable asset, his music catalogs – and everything else too seemingly, in the case of AEG.

The objective of these predatory and parasitic entities? Profit. Control. Power. Getting Michael Jackson at the O2 would help AEG Live overtake their main competitor, LiveNation in the entertainment venue market. And if that failed, the contract enabled them to very nicely profit from and have complete power and control over (ie: OWN) the most successful and greatest entertainer who ever lived, including and especially his catalog(s). If he did not or could not do what they wanted, they were going to own him. Of course they did this under the guise of “helping” him out of his various financial crises, just like $ony always did. This is disaster capitalism at its worst (or finest, depending on whether you are a capitalist or not). Corporations typically operate this way with impunity all over the world. This is nothing new for them. And this is yet another reason why I believe these contractual agreements were likely just as abusive and/or duplicitous as they appear to be.

The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success. He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael.

-James Baldwin, ‘Here be Dragons’

First, I’ll share some information about the contract between AEG and Michael Jackson Company LLC (not Michael Jackson the individual). There’s a reason the contract is not between AEG and Michael Jackson himself. The reason is that Michael Jackson Company LLC is the entity which contains the holdings for all of Michael’s assets. And, if Michael did not pay back advances given to him by AEG or complete the tour, they could sue him for the advances and production costs of the tour. This promissory note was collateralized by Michael’s assets, including the catalog(s).  I have mentioned here before that AEG was paying the rent on Michael’s Carolwood estate home, paying for his children’s schooling, etc. and that they had threatened to ‘pull the rug‘ out from under him if he didn’t start showing up for rehearsals when they thought he should, and if he did not do everything they thought he should. They had him in ‘financial bondage’, as one other blogger put it.

His brother Randy also corroborated that they were threatening and controlling Michael financially and in other ways (even threatening his life, according to brother Randy), and I have absolutely no doubt at this point that they were. That video and post is here.  The pertinent part of the blog on the promissory note between Michael Jackson Company LLC and AEG is as follows:

… However, what has not been widely published is Leonard Rowe’s accusation that AEG Live’s contract was not with Michael Jackson the artist, but rather was with The Michael Jackson Company LLC. The reason why Rowe says the contract is between the Michael Jackson Company and AEG is because Michael’s assets were held in the company. If Michael failed to do the tour or failed to live up to his contract, AEG could sue Michael for advances given to him and for the production costs of the tour. Michael’s share of the ATV, according to Rowe, was held by the Michael Jackson Company LLC. According to this blog, Rowe is quoted in his book as writing:

…This promissory note from Michael Jackson Company, LLC and Michael Jackson, the artist,required Michael to pay the principal amount of the note, in full on the maturity date as defined above to be about six months after the first leg of the tour in London, but not later than December 31, 2009.(whichever comes first), or six months after written request is received from AEG by Michael Jackson or his company. However, AEG gets really slick here in this promissory note, because the entire note is collateralized not by Michael Jackson the artist, but by Michael Jackson Company, LLC. Why is this you may wonder? More than likely it is because Michael Jackson’s business holdings, which would include his publishing rights and catalogue, are owned by Michael Jackson, LLC and not Michael Jackson, the individual artist. So if the promissory note is for any reason not paid or defaulted upon, the assets of the Michael Jackson Company, LLC get forked over to AEG. In other words, owning Michael Jackson Company, LLC and/or its assets, means owning Michael Jackson.” (Rowe, Pg. 173)

Now, I don’t have Rowe’s book and personally am on the fence about his credibility. On the other hand, I trust the entity that is AEG and Randy Phillips in particular, even less. I know those who were there during the rehearsals for the shows, and what they saw first-hand. Their accounts jive with what Rowe says about this, and what Randy Jackson said they were doing to his brother. That is no less than three different sources saying the same thing about how AEG was controlling Michael financially. And now, we have some actual details of the contract which seem to confirm what these sources say.

I do not know what is customary in such contracts between artists (or their respective companies) and a promoter for tours of this magnitude. My admittedly uneducated opinion is that Michael didn’t want to do these shows and wasn’t prepared to do them. Other promoters had previously talked to Michael about performing again and rightfully decided against any deals with him at or just before that same timeframe. Michael was likely talked into or coerced into the O2 AEG deal (perhaps by Tohme Tohme, Colony Capital et al – they’re all tied together) and thus agreed to do ten shows. Once again, I assert that Michael was targeted by these corporate entities while at his financially weakest. The advantage to them was profit by overtaking a market, and barring or in addition to that, profit via complete ownership and control of Michael Jackson the entity and all his assets (ie: again, profit and control).

Overnight, those ten shows became fifty shows, and AEG felt fully confident that Michael would do all those shows whether he wanted to or not (or died trying) because they knew they had Michael over a financial barrel. This explains the arrogance and the attitude on Phillips’ part that he owned Michael (they essentially did). They had him trapped in financial bondage, or whatever term one chooses to use. I’ve said this many times before in personal conversations but did not know the exact details – only that they had him in a financial trap, that they were controlling him financially, and that they had threatened to destroy him if he didn’t perform all the shows, and that he had no control over the production, or his life, at that point.  He was literally a dancing marionette being controlled by AEG.

UPDATE: 2010-09-06

Commenters below are puzzled as to why Michael may have signed such a seemingly terrible contract with AEG. Here is some additional information that might help readers to understand Michael’s possible reasoning in doing so:

A friend tells me that she went through the AEG contract thoroughly herself, and that even with the redacted parts, there was enough to put the pieces together. Her impression was that Michael was to receive several advances from AEG once the contract was signed, and at different times throughout the tour, one of which was paid immediately. She believes that advance was possibly to secure a property in LasVegas that Michael called ‘Wonderland (not its official name). I do remember as I know readers do, that Michael fallen in love with a property in Vegas that he very much wanted, and so it could be the advance money was meant to secure that property for himself and his children. She got the impression that this house was was one of the major ‘inducements‘ to sign the contract, while he had refused previously to sign with AEG. A commenter below also states that the MJLLC/AEG contract also stipulates that part of Michael’s salary be withheld for payment on this home in Las Vegas.  No doubt Tohme was aware of Michael’s previous refusal to sign with AEG:  enter Colony Capitol. Michael also did not want to lose Neverland, which was about to happen.

Was this advance the money Tohme had taken and returned after Michael’s death? We don’t know, but it seems possible. Also she reminds (and we know) that Michael very much wanted to do films and the AEG/O2 deal was also a means to that end as well, so that might have been another reason Michael signed.

She remembered too, as do I, that Michael kept cash in his house – usually around $1 million according to LaToya. LaToya could not find the cash after Michael died and Tohme had fired all the staff that same day. I seem to remember reading or hearing about these details myself after his death. Very odd, both the missing money and the same-day firings of all staff by Tohme.

If these things are at all true, Michael likely started out knowing exactly what he was signing and had the above reasons to finally do so, given the ‘inducements‘ contained in the contract. However, things apparently quickly spun out of control as more and more shows were added. Michael knew what he could do and what he could not do, however by that time, it was all beyond his control, and it seems no one was listening to him anymore. Tohme likely mostly had to answer to Thomas Barrack and AEG with Michael coming in a distant third, if he was considered at all. Tohme does (or did), I believe, work with Colony Capitol so his working with and for them as well as for Michael seems to me to be a blatant conflict of interest and could be why he continued to hang around even after he was fired by Michael – to look after Colony’s and AEG’s interests.

With the stipulations of the contract Michael signed, he stood to literally loose everything he currently owned and every dream he had for the future if he didn’t fulfill his obligations – meaning do all 50 shows, even if he felt that was way too many for him. It remains haunting to me personally that Michael had said just some years ago that he could not tour again or it would kill him – and how he’s gone. That is what always comes back to me when I go through this situation in my mind. These ‘inducements‘, these ‘coersions‘ used to get Michael to sign onto a tour, signing him, then expanding the tour to so many dates he did not previously agree to and was evidently very concerned he could not complete, seems like a dupe – a stab in the back. To use Michael’s own words from another debacle in his life “somehow greed got in there“.

Tohme-Tohme knew nothing of the music business and said so himself. His job, he said, was to ‘take care of Michael‘. It seems he failed in that regard, in a big way. As evidenced by the outcome, he took much better care of Colony Capitol and AEG than he did Michael Jackson.

_ _ _

Michael in Corporate Chains

Michael in Corporate Chains

Now, on to Sony, and a bit further back into the past. Blogger MUSIKFactory2 shares the following, as she researched the contracts over the years between Michael and Sony:

In 1985, Michael Jackson bought the ATV Music Publishing aka Beatles Catalog for $47.5 million. Yes, Michael used to own ALL of ATV Catalog.

In 1995, Michael was experiencing financial problems. Sony proposed an attractive deal to buy half of the Catalog for $90 million. Michael accepted. ATV Publishing was merged with Sony and renamed Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

At the time, it appeared to be a business savvy decision. In hindsight, it will turn out to be a deadly mistake.

Michael Jackson-Sony discord started in 2000 and disintegrated in 2002.

The onset of Michael’s trying times, his frequent utterances of conspiracy and his fear for his life coincide with the aforementioned time frame.

The incredible machinations of the men from Japan and their American allies were designed to ensure nothing less than the destruction of Michael Jackson and billions of dollars profit for Sony. The dark underbelly of the entertainment world is not a pretty sight. It’s time to hold it up to the light.

-Lynton Guest, ‘The Trials of Michael Jackson

Here’s the part that too many people do not understand, also from MUZIKFactory2:

Michael was expecting the licenses to the masters of his back Catalog (mechanical copyrights) to revert back to him in 2000 which would have allowed him to market his songs without sharing profits with Sony.

Michael was in awe to find out that due to various clauses in his Sony contract, the date when the copyrights revert back to him was many years away.

The contract required Michael to deliver to $ony a certain number of albums on a given period. For every album he didn’t deliver, Sony added more years to when the mechanical copyrights would revert back to Michael.

Michael stated that he wasn’t informed of such clauses.

Upon investigation, Michael found out that the law firm that represented him also represented Sony. He used this conflict of interest to extricate himself from the Sony Contract. Michael would deliver Invincible album, Sony retains rights to repackage Michael’s back Catalog and Michael is out of his Sony contract.

Michael was so chagrined by the entire situation that he dragged his feet during the production of Invincible. To make matters worse, Sony restricted Michael’s creative control, which it had never done with other albums. There were many heated debates between the parties over production, budget and promotion.

As an advance on forthcoming sales of Invincible, Michael had negotiated a $188 million loan from Sony, using his stake in Sony/ATV Catalog as collateral.

While demanding that Michael reimburse the loan, Sony simultaneously sabotaged the production, promotion and the sale of Invincible album.

Why did Sony sabotage against its own artist?

Michael wasn’t just another artist to Sony. He was a business partner with an equal stake in Sony/ATV Publishing. Now that Michael left the label, stakes had just gotten high. Sabotaging Invincible was just another mundane business decision for Sony to keep its publishing division intact.

When half of the Catalog changed hands in 1995, parties signed a contract that allowed Michael to dissolve the LLC and take his half of the Catalog with him upon exiting the label as well as %50 of the earnings from the years of LLC.

The LLC between Michael and Sony gained considerably in value since its inception, with hundreds of millions of dollars in liquid assets. If Michael were to dissolve the joint venture, Sony would have been forced to transfer half of the LLC assets and half of the Music Publishing Catalog that it acquired together with Michael. Sony would also have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to MJ for the %50 of the earnings.

This could result in a massive financial deficit for Sony, undermining what little financial stability it had achieved through fiscal restructuring.

At the time, the entire music industry was suffering from a depressed economy. Sony was not exempt from this downward trend. In 2000, Sony cut off 17,000 jobs. After it announced a disasterous $927 million net loss in first 3 months of 2003, Sony’s stock sank 24% in 2 days, losing $3.8 Billion of its value. The news shocked the Stock Market and the event was dubbed as “Sony Shock“.

In October 2003, Sony announced it would cut off another 20,000 jobs.

Sony Shock was also shock to us” said Nobuyuki Idei, Chairman of Sony.

Due to the downsizing and modest hits of Jennifer Lopez and Michael Jackson, the record division posted a %9 gain but with an operation deficit of over $100 million (Sony 2002 Annual report). By the third quarter of the fiscal year, the only reason that Sony Entertainment Division posted a gain was because of the increased value of the Yen when converted to Western currencies.

One of the foundations that upheld the profit margin was its Music Publishing Department. Michael dissolving the LLC was a risk Sony couldn’t afford.

If only MJ defaulted on his loan, Sony could take full possession of the Catalog.

Michael Jackson was beset with trials & and tribulations which, on face of it, were unconnected to each other. There was the child abuse charge, the downturn in record sales, the financial catastrophes and the struggles to retain ownership of Sony/ATV, his back catalogue and Neverland.

Yet far from being coincidental, everywhere we detected the hidden hand of Sony attempting to orchestrate events.

-Lynton Guest, ‘The Trials of Michael Jackson

46 Responses to “Sony and AEG: They Had Him Trapped in ‘Financial Bondage’ (Updated)”

  1. ladyaquarius1962 says:

    The only part I have a problem with here is a motive for AEG doing this to Michael. In short, they had none UNLESS, it was their intention to use the potential of Michael defaulting on the concerts as a means of gaining them Michael’s half of the ATV Catalog, which in turn from there (and this gets very UGLY), they would have a “foot in the door” to a “corporate takeover” of Sony Music. Considering the fact that Sony posted some rather large losses for 2009, this may NOT be that “far-fetched” an idea. The problem for Me on a personal thought level is that I had suspected that Branca himself may want to attempt such, especially now since Michael is dead. Hmm..now taking all that has been mentioned here in this blog, I’m more inclined to think that AEG DID have a motive. But, the only question is were they only going to settle for Michael’s half of the ATV? I say that’s doubtful. Especially since Philip Anschutz is the sort of corporate businessman he is. To me, he’d want the whole pie. Not just a few slices.

  2. ButterFlyGirl says:

    I get physically sick when I read about these business deals that hung over MJ’s head. I recall when he was negotiating for the ATV catalogue rooting him on and hoping and praying that he would follow through with the deal. I knew if he held on to it would be a money making investment for the long haul. But low and behold it turned out to be a nightmare and possibly deadly, Another great article Seven.

  3. Seven says:

    ladyaquarius,

    Consider that maybe AEG wasn’t alone in that venture. Look at: https://www.mj-777.com/?p=3830. The ties are interesting, at least.

    Also within weeks after Michael died, Colony Capital et al put out an inquiry on MJ’s half of the $ony/ATV catalog. It wasn’t up for sale, but they did inquire about it. And they wasted no time in doing so.

    I’m glad you brought up AEG and motive though because I believe part of AEG’s motive was business competition. They desperately wanted to overtake their main competitor, LiveNation, in the entertainment venue industry and booking Michael Jackson at the O2 (owned by AEG) was their ticket to doing so. I have in fact added that to my post because it is important to note. Beyond that, whatever their motive was or was not, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that they did in fact control and manipulate Michael financially and had him over a barrel; that they were likely threatening him, and that he had no control himself at that point over anything.

    For an artist of his stature to be put in such an oppressive, submissive position, almost that of a mere slave (and yes I use that term with all the connotations that come with it), is appalling. At least to me it is.

    If AEG was so concerned about Michael defaulting on the advances and/or backing out of the shows that they had to force him to sign such an abusive and manipulative deal, then why sign him at all? Other promoters knew better than to do so at that particular time, why didn’t AEG? Had they just left the man be, he’d still be financially in the hole but at least his children would have their father. Their ill-conceived and self-serving “business” decision (whatever their motives behind it) cost Michael’s life. They wouldn’t have signed him if they didn’t see something in it for themselves and at least part what they saw was a chance to take over their biggest competitor LiveNation, in the entertainment venue industry. I could probably locate a link where this was mentioned. It has been written about.

    If they could get his catalog(s) instead, I’m sure they would have been fine with that too. It is after all, worth billions (about 2-3 or so). And consider we may not just talking about the $ony/ATV catalog but his own catalog as well, MiJac. It’s not small potatoes if they essentially owned Michael Jackson.

  4. ladyaquarius1962 says:

    Hi again Seven. I find myself in agreement with your synopsis, and you’re welcome for my thoughts about AEG’s potential other motive of “corporate takeover.” Anschutz is NOT a man beneath that possibility– religious or not. Money tends to talk larger than religion anyway. 😉 I too have my thoughts about Colony and their “pals” too and their role in all of this. However, for the most part, I think that Colony is mainly yet another “spoonful of gravy for the goose,” so to speak in this matter.

  5. David says:

    Seven, I know I posted this comment on an older post about Bashir & NBC, but since this is relevant to Sony and their corporate sleaziness, I wanted to repost it here, if that’s OK.

    In January 2003, Andrew Lack was hired by Sony to replace Tommy Mottola. http://www.sony.com/SCA/press/030110a.shtml
    Lack was the President and Chief Operating Officer of NBC since June 2001, and President of NBC News for eight years prior to that. In 1993 NBC hired him to help increase the ratings of their fledgling news program, Dateline NBC. Their ratings were down after they were caught manipulating a story by rigging explosions in a report on truck safety! General Motors sued them for libel and defamation, and NBC settled out of court, and FIRED several journalists and producers who were associated with the story.

    Whoa, talk about journalistic integrity, huh?

    (Open the links below for more info on this scandal:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dateline_NBC#General_Motors_v._NBC
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/media/2005-06-13-lack-usat_x.htm)

    The reason that this is very important is because as the head of NBC, he gave the go-ahead for those horrible Dateline NBC episodes that aired after MJ rejected their interview offer after the Bashir documentary aired. If they had no problem slandering a major corporation like GM, then they certainly had no problem in slandering MJ, who was himself a walking, talking corporation!

    This is an excerpt from Maureen Orth’s 2003 article on MJ: http://sinhablar.com/news/orth4-2003.html

    “This past January, however, Tommy Mottola was out as Sony chairman. Ironically, his replacement is Andrew Lack, the former president of NBC, who, shortly before accepting Sony’s offer, had given the go-ahead for Dateline NBC to do a show for the February ratings sweeps on Michael Jackson’s collapsing face and the downslide of his career. This action of Lack’s was alluded to by Jermaine Jackson, Michael’s brother, on a TV talk show on which he extolled the closeness of the Jackson family while at the same time letting slip that Michael had never met Jermajesty, Jermaine’s son.”

    MJ always thought that some of his enemies paid Janet Arvizo to make those false claims, and he never ruled out Sony. The fact that Sony hired the President and COO of the network that has done the worst reporting on MJ, instead of hiring a record executive with years of experience, only confirms MJ’s suspicions. Lack approved that Dateline NBC episode in order to boost NBC’s ratings and their revenues, and couldn’t have cared less about MJ’s feelings. So it’s very plausible that he could have paid Janet Arvizo to make those false charges against MJ so he would go to jail and Sony could get control of the catalogue, thus boosting their profits. It’s what any good businessman would do!

    And here is another example of Sony’s corruption: in 2002-2003, they were involved in a scandal known as “payola”, where they would pay radio stations to play the music of their artists, regardless of the demand for their music by the public. This scandal was made public during 2005.

    It’s amazing that while they were paying radio stations to play the music of such “legends” as Jennifer Lopez & Jessica Simpson, they refused to even market MJ’s “Invincible” album.

    MJ was right: the music business is the most corrupt business ever!
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,163537,00.html

  6. Seven says:

    David,

    Thank you very much for posting that again. It’s great information and certainly ties into the flock of vultures out to destroy Michael. NBC, like most other “news” media is putrid, corrupt, criminal, and tabloid. There is no major media outlet today that has any integrity at all thanks to scum like these.

  7. Justice4MJJ says:

    I agree on Rowe, AND as soon as I saw that he was using that old bs “addict” line in his book I was revolted and against it. But then sifting throughout that cr*p, people have found truth about AEG+co in his book, and it corroborates with other testimony/research, like you mentioned. I just wish he didn’t use that addict bs~it made me think he had some self agenda ($) or like others claim, he was writing the book before MJ was killed..both of which aren’t proven.

  8. Seven says:

    @Justice4MJJ,

    Yes, if it was only Rowe who was saying those things I wouldn’t believe it. But – his info. about the contract matches what others have said – others whose information and integrity is primo. Add them all up and the story is consistent across the board. To me, that holds considerable weight. Same with $ony too. Others who knew MJ said the same thing – that was what they did to him – they set up his contract so that he could never fulfill it, no matter what he did. And they did so deliberately. After having read Lynton Guest’s book (which says the same thing and more), learning from others who knew him during all that time, and the research that has been done on the contracts and how they read, there again we have the story corroborated from multiple sources. And again, it holds considerable weight, just IMO.

    Those same sources say he hated $ony and that he would have never signed another deal with them. This is why I feel so sick about this 250 Mil deal Branca & Co. did with them. MJ would never have done that deal with those vultures.

    As David indicated above, it wasn’t only Tommy Mottola Michael took issue with. It was $ony. He didn’t trust them anymore and I don’t blame him. Anyone who buys any MJ music from them is spitting in Michael’s face, IMO. He’d never have wanted this.

  9. Ali says:

    just another thing briefly, i just had a little check into aeg and anshutz, not a very in depth one tho, and i noticed something else.a little while ago i posted here that there was something about oil in the land around Neverland. i think maybe some thought this was silly or irrelevant, and perhaps it is, but – on wikipedia it says that in 2001 anshutz was trying to drill for oil on a site in montana where native americans and environmentalists wanted to preserve some sacred rock drawings. their appeal failed and he was given the right to do so. it happened that he backtracked on it, doesn’t say why, but he wanted to do it. he has also bought other land and drilled successfully for oil.
    it could be that as well as what you have already identified,which tragically and horrifyingly all sounds a sound theory, Neverland is the icing on the cake.

  10. Ali says:

    pity all the fans couldn’t club together enough money to buy mijjac and have Taj and co direct it until the children can. it would be lovely to do that for Michael and his children.

  11. Jeanne says:

    Everything changed when Michael bought the catalogs. I know this is too simple . But the first blame here is the blankety blank that got mad about this in the first place. That blankety blank that I am talking about had the opportunity to buy the catalog himself but was too greedy to buy it at the price and then came along Michael who saw and knew the value and bought the catalogs for MANY times over the price of what he could have . .With an eye filled with wisdom he saw a value that even the creator himself did not see and that began the stream of ugly against Michael. Michael shamed this person then the ugly started. Michael tried to say hey , lets talk about it . I know this sounds too simple but this is when ugly raised its head and those to follow. Anytime a whole bunch of _ _it starts hittin the fan you just look how it all began and follow the trail. Someone gets mad who knows someone who knows someone and on and on…and there was too much money to gain so all the roaches came to feed . Thanks for turning the light on Seven now someone get the Raid and lets stop the infestation.! Opps , Sorry bout that , guess I got a bit angry . I think all will be exposed.

  12. june says:

    I read Leonard Rowe’s book; there were basically three things I found negative concerning it; (1) I believe he’s into self-promotion, spends the first half of the book talking about his own legal problems which ran concurrently with Michael’s during the early to mid-2000’s, (2) he refers to Michael as an “addict”, and (3) he claims, like Joe Jackson, that Katherine could have saved Michael had she intervened when Joe and Rowe asked her to. That’s quite a trip to lay on Katherine, in my opinion. Having said that, when Rowe finally got into the intracacies of the contract and the problems with the July 7, 2002 will, I did find him persuasive, as others have stated here. The entire series of events in Michael’s life since 2001-2 are all intertwined, with Sony at the helm and AEG a more than willing participant, whether AEG’s motive was to overtake LiveNation or, more sickeningly, to eventually get Michael’s share of the ATV, and take over Sony.

  13. Karin says:

    Seven, thank you. great article but it just breaks my heart. In the midst of all this treachery and greed it’s clear that Michael wanted to work his way out of debt and reclaim his life. I just can’t imagine the enormous pressure he had on his shoulders those last few months. He was going for broke after a decade of extreme adversity and turmoil.

    Randy Phillips has done nothing else but promote himself and AEG to look like great guys when in fact it had nothing to lose as it was sitting in a win/win situation whipping Michael to the finish line. With friends like these etc? I believe that Rowe would have known quite a bit about the contract with AEG because he was for a time working as Michael’s manager in 2009 until Dileo barged back in. There we have Dileo in bed with AEG and Sony with his name credited on This is It. He must feel like the goose that laid the golden egg along with Branca and McClain. So many individuals and corporations are profiting over the loss of a wonderful man, a father, a soul. As you say Seven, Capitalism at is very worst.

  14. Heidi says:

    I wonder if someone could (breifly) clear up something I just don’t understand….By all accountings MJ was EXTREMELY business saavy, often being the one sent in to the boardroom to negotiate on behalf of J5 at a VERY young age while his father essentially just sat there. He created a fortune worth billions of dollars and then apparantly “trusted others” to “manage” it. Really??? That just doesn’t FIT in light of how hands-on he was with absolutely everything else. He not only created trememdous success for himself but also his nephews and many others. His business mind was brilliant and his radar was always on. I therefore have a very hard time understanding how he supposedly allowed himself to be completely mismanaged which THEN created the situations of manipulation and control because he was then in “financial ruin” and therefore had to “do something” to get out of debt. I understand there is a difference between assets and cash flow but there again I can’t fathom him allowing his money to be completely tied up in assets with nothing for himself or his children to live on. I also understand lengthy trials cost money, but the picture painted is that he was mismanaged into the ground while he “wasn’t aware” of any of it. NO WAY. He was aware of EVERYTHING. Needing to know was his great passion. He was also extremely perceptive so if he was supposedly lied to until he was in financial ruin I have a hard time with that also. Something would have not “sat right” with him and he would have investigated it. This is his career! His money. His life! Many others have allowed themselves to be run into the ground by others, but that just doesn’t seem to fit the picture of how MICHAEL did things. I don’t understand.

  15. Heidi says:

    Seven, in no way am I inferring that YOU painted this above mentioned picture. I am so grateful for all the information you investigate and provide. Wanted to make that clear.

  16. Ronnie says:

    Where is Tommy Mottola these days?

  17. Ellen says:

    It goes back to the same thing as always. Greedy people with no morals and no integrity will do anything, anything at all to get what they want – even it means the destruction of someone else. In this case, a loving, sweet, angel like Michael Jackson was made to pay the ultimate price for these leeches. God knows everything, and Michael will be glorious and always loved and admired not only for his tremendous gifts in music and dance, but for the wonderful, caring, loving, generous soul that could never do enough to help everyone and anyone. God bless you, sweet Michael, for you are the best. You are now out of the hands of all those vultures and safe in the care of our Creator for all eternity. Rest in peace and know how much you are missed and loved.

  18. BG says:

    Thanks Seven and thanks to David too for the added information. A good description too about Michael being viewed as a walking, talking corporation. That is what all three – AEG, Sony and Colony Capital, were dealing with above anything else. Michael’s assets were what made him a walking, talking corporation and, of course, Michael himself was an asset because of his ability to generate huge amounts of business for all concerned under the right circumstances. It was business. Michael knew his business and himself like no one else, he knew more about it than any one of these other three corporations. The difference is that Michael operated his business honestly and trusted those he dealt with to do the same, well he trusted at least two of them enough to do business with them. From what we know he did not want to do business with Sony except to remain as a shareholder in Sony/ATV – that was something he had fought to hold onto to.

    Colony Capital hoped to gain something from their partnership with Michael and vice versa. This is the partnership that put things in motion. AEG was the deal that Michael decided upon, AEG being the second biggest player in the concert business but a conglomeration with other assets, a company able to provide other “inducements” – movie deals for example.

    Ten concerts in London were agreed to. It was a huge coup for AEG to get Michael to the O2 Arena. Where and how the additional number of concerts came into it is where things started to be taken out of Michael’s control. Whatever the number of concerts AEG says Michael agreed to, AEG went way beyond the scope of the contract with 50 concerts. They had no right to do that but they did it anyway. If Michael had agreed to 50, why wasn’t there either a new contract or an amended contract put in place immediately? But what could Michael do, the tickets were sold. If he’d tried to make waves, it would have been him taking the blame as usual. AEG and Colony Capital through Tohme had backed Michael into a corner for sure. Tohme knew nothing about the music business or the concert business. He was supposedly fired in May, we’ve seen the letter. But he was still there right to the end, if only representing the interests of Colony Capital.

    Sony was involved but should have only been involved to the extent that Sony/ATV’s permission on copyrights was needed. Sony was not a partner in the AEG deal. They became an AEG partner only after 25 June.

    After 25 June we have the three interests involved. AEG wanting to recoup funds it had already expended, Colony Capital with an interest in at least one of Michael’s assets that we know about and then Sony, the gatekeeper to Michael’s major asset. Each of the three players involved in Michael’s business to varying degrees, each a huge entity. The fourth huge entity, Michael Jackson himself, was out of the picture but then another entity became involved – The Estate of Michael Jackson and its administrators, John Branca and John McClain. John Branca, who had come on the scene approximately eight days before June 25 and who was reported to be on vacation on June 25.

    The Estate of Michael Jackson immediately became a partner to AEG. This was quickly followed by a further partnership with Sony, involving Michael’s assets being tied to Sony for years into the future. Would Michael have wanted this? If so, why hadn’t he arranged it himself? Michael was waiting for the time his masters would revert to him. He was doing business with Colony Capital and AEG, business that extended beyond the O2 concerts. He was not doing business with Sony and Sony wasn’t doing business with him.

  19. Seven says:

    Heidi,

    If you haven’t seen it yet, go back and read It’s a Small World After All. That piece explains exactly how the AEG/O2 deal came to be – and why. I’m sure Michael knew what was what – and what he was signing (though there are those who say that he had contracts read to him, that he didn’t read them himself). It’s important to understand that at this point, Michael was about to lose Neverland, and all his belongings within Neverland, and his catalogs (which were collateral for some of the loans) within just a few days. His manager at the time, Tohme-Tohme, (who used to be married to Randy Phillips’ sister and who is a cousin to Jermaine’s wife), handled this very incompetently, just IMO.

    In response to that, (and here’s the disaster capitalism part – read Naomi Klein’s book if you haven’t – highly recommended), Colony Capitol’s Thomas Barrack told Michael “We’ll buy the note on Neverland and restructure your finances, but you need a new “caretaker” a new “podium”. They (Barrack) brought in AEG who worked at Michael for months to get him to sign to a tour of shows at the O2. Randy Phillips had been at Michael for a while to do shows there but Michael turned him down previously. Remember that Michael had said previously that he never wanted to tour again because it would kill him.

    To put it succinctly, Michael Jackson was coerced into doing the shows at the O2 for AEG. Due to the dire circumstances he found himself in financially, an incompetent (IMO) manager (Tohme) and various corporate vultures swooping in to get their share of the spoils of his already-destroyed life, he signed. With the loss of Neverland, and all his belongings at Neverland looming over his head, he signed.

    Like BG writes, it was Colony Capitol that put things in motion with AEG. The originally-agreed-upon 10 concerts became 50. The contract that AEG had with MJJ LLC stipulated that they got his assets if he did not perform all the shows (and any others they added) or pay back his advances from them. They were also paying the rent and his children’s education at the time. Michael Jackson was out of control of any of this. He had no control over his life at that point at all. His manager Tohme saw to this. He had once told Michael: “you don’t interfere with the business end of things and I won’t interfere with the creative end of things”. Tohme had Michael cut off from his family, and even his own bank accounts.

    Michael signed on with AEG only because felt he had to. He was led to believe he had no choice or he’d lose Neverland and everything that meant so much to him. He’d be humiliated and he had three children to care for. He never wanted to lose Neverland or his catalogs.

    He said that if he toured again it would kill him and it did – with the help of a grossly incompetent doctor – Conrad Murray.

    $ony was not directly involved with this deal and I meant in no way to say they were. $ony did however, benefit greatly from it, as sales from MJ’s music skyrocketed after his death and having Michael out of the picture gets them one step closer to complete ownership of the $ony/ATV catalog due to their cozy ties with John Branca and his law firm.

    $ony is mentioned because they, also, had Michael in ‘financial bondage‘ several times during the years Michael was signed with them, as detailed in the article above. They were constantly in competition with him – having declared war on the entity that was Michael Jackson from the moment he bought the $ony/ATV. They jerked him around on Invincible to get at the catalog. They jerked him around after Invincible to keep him on contract with them so he couldn’t leave, taking half the catalog with him – because it would have destroyed their earnings. They also kept him in financial / contractual bondage with them. As reads in my piece above and elsewhere, Michael was unaware of any contract stipulations that said he had to provide x number of albums in x time period or they’d add years to his contract. He only found that out after he tried to leave them – with half of the catalog.

    So, while $ony is not directly involved with the O2/AEG deal that we know of (other than licensing), they too, as well as AEG, kept Michael Jackson in financial bondage to control him and to get at his assets.

    My objective with this piece is not necessarily to say $ony was involved with his death (though they may be in some direct or indirect manner – who would put it past them) but rather to detail exactly how these contracts between MJJ and $ony in the past – and MJJ LLC and AEG most recently, were structured … so that we can all see the corporate targeting, abuse and manipulation that has occurred with this artist.

    Another link to visit which details Michael’s “entourage” just prior to the end of his life and how he got roped into the O2 shows is here:

    http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Showbiz-News/Whos-In-Michael-Jacksons-Entourage-Randy-Phillips-Conrad-Murray-Tohme-R-Tohme-Thomas-Barrack/Article/200907115327857

  20. june says:

    Seven, Michael’s contract with AEG is a part of Leonard Rowe’s book; Rowe concludes this contract would have left Michael with nothing due to many twisted, confused contingency clauses, repayment of advances and Michael’s having to put up collateral for successful legs of the concert in order to be paid. The contract is beyond my ability to completely comprehend but what really caught my eye was the “notice” section near the end of the contract; any notices to the parties concerning any aspect of the contract were to be sent to Michael Jackson Company LLC attention Tohme Tohme and his (Tohme’s) attorney Dennis Hawk. No notice requirements to Michael Jackson! Michael Jackson Company LLC held ALL Michael’s assets. Michael Jackson Conmpany LLC was a party to the contract with AEG. What connection did Tohme have with Michael Jackson Company LLC that HE would receive notices under the contract, and NOT Michael himself? Seven, am I missing something about the AEG contract? Sounds too incredible to be believed that Michael would have knowingly tied himself to this, as you call it, bondage.

  21. Jeanne says:

    Debt ,,, now this word in relation to Michaels finances made not one bit of sense to me . How on Gods green earth can this entertainer EVER be financially depleated? He could walk in the door and make millions , day after day after day . Just by showing up Michael could generate enough money to take care of ANY debt. Surely people can see this . All concerts standing room only . Busting out of the seams with those who could not get tickets . So this is a red light to me to hear words like , Michael was in debt . Why don’t we just say Michael was constantly being ROBBED of every penny the many thieves could get their hands on. And did you ever hear of any elaborate spending other than Neverland that I am sure was paid for many times over yet the money probably never got to where it was suppose to go. Look at Michaels history of achievments . HE NEVER RESTED . He worked himself to the bone . Literally . I know I am ranting but people do you agree with me . Does this word , DEBT , in relation to Michaels finances not make ONE bit of sense ? I think that everyone should be investigatied and books need to be open. I am sure who ever was in charge of Michael’s finances is a walking bank right now. Debt and Michael Jackson are two words that do not belong together .

  22. Seven says:

    @June,

    I’m the least bit surprised to read that AEG’s contract with MJ LLC was twisted. As I understand it, Tohme was his manager and had power of attorney and it was primarily he who signed this deal with AEG at the behest of Colony Capitol who brought AEG/Phillips in to coerce MJ into it. Also, read my response to Heidi about Tohme’s attitude towards management of MJ’s business and how he cut MJ off from even his own finances and family. Mj said this himself. And, it could be that MJ signed it knowing (or having been told) this was his only way out – only way to save himself and Neverland, and his catalog.

    I dont have other explanations than that, I’m sorry to say, other than he was coerced, at a financially weak point of his life, into this mess. Because he certainly did not want to tour again.

    @Jeanne,

    There’s a difference between assets and cash. MJ had assets. He didn’t necessarily have cash ie: money readily available to pay for loans, living expenses, etc. Remember he hadn’t toured or produced much new music in almost 8 years (that had been released). Now, I’ve no doubt people were ripping him off left and right too. Not any doubt about that. His managers were untrustworthy, most of them and particularly Tohme.

    He was robbed! He was robbed of his life: His professional life (ie: allegations and the 2003-2005 trial destroyed him), emotionally and spiritually he was destroyed, and he was destroyed financially and driven from his home – Neverland. He was used and abused, and ripped off. The robbery started long before this Colony Capitol/AEG/O2 deal. Michael Jackson was stripped of everything he had worked all his life for – but it happened long before 2009. By 2007-2009, he was left to various vultures who swooped in to help themselves to the spoils of his life – enter $ony, Colony Capitol, Tohme Tohme, AEG, et al. Now with him out of the way, you bet a few people are walking banks unto themselves off of Michael’s lifetime of hard work!

    And where is Tohme? What has become of this shadowy figure who penned this deal? I wonder…

  23. june says:

    Seven – I agree with your analysis of this dreadful deal with AEG; I read that after Michael’s murder, Tohme turned over to authorities $5,000,000 he had been “holding” for Michael to purchase a home, supposedly. Did you know that part of Michel’s contract with AEG said that a portion of Michael’s salary would be withheld to purchase a home in “LV”? Must mean Vegas, right? What kind of contract was this anyway? Tohme had a lawyer, Dennis Hawk, Michael didn’t have a lawyer, all he had was “Tohme”.

    Jeanne – as Seven says, Michael had assets but not liquid cash. Everything he had was stolen mostly between 2005 and 2009, after the trial, when all the vulture lawyers and their sleazoid clients sued Michael, who would probably have settled all the bogus suits rather than go to court again. He had no reputable attorney representation; in fact most of those who represented him in losing cases then sued him themselves! How could someone survive all this treachery.

    Yes, Seven, you raise a good point, where is Tohme?

  24. Riled Up & Grateful says:

    First of all I want to thank Seven for finally making sense, for me, of what I haven’t been able to wrap my head around. The last comment you wrote in response to Jeanne has left me feeling at my core the deep sense of injustice that was inflicted upon this innocent being and that we, as a society, have an obligation to right in the highest manner possible because he is you and I. By that I don’t mean revenge or vengeance, not at all, I mean living each of our lives with the passion that Michael showed us, to not tolerate, ever, the abuse of anyone famous through supporting the gossip tabloids, news media, etc. I will not be buying any new music coming out from Sony that Michael Jackson had saved for his children; as hard as that will be, and truthfully I am going to look for the independent labels that are not associated with Sony. I just can’t in all good integrity. As long as his kids are going to get what is due them financially, that is all that matters. I can’t support the structure of destruction and suffering that the music industry is perpetuating on it’s artists. This is truly corporate greed at it’s worst. I will instead make my own unique music by living my life from a place of truth, following my true purpose and to give of my self to support others. This is what Michael was talking about his whole life. For goodness sake it’s the least I can give back to an amazing artist and human being who showed us the way, did the best he could, and gave his life.

    This isn’t right – it isn’t right that most of these people will get away with what they did to him. How can they live with themselves. Yet -the truth is being exposed and THAT is a wonderful thing. Usually people can’t live with themselves for long and eventually a mistake is made and something shows up. I choose to not have Michael Jackson’s name, reputation, value as a human being on this earth for such a short time, tarnished. It’s time to stop the injustice and demand the truth.

    Okay! This just stirred something within me and I am grateful for it but phew I’m riled up. I’m going to connect with nature for a bit. Perhaps climb a tree for Michael.

  25. truth seeker says:

    If MJ was so cash poor, where’s that
    5 Mil come from? Tohme said he was holding it for Michael to buy a house, assuming it’s true, he doesn’t say it was an advance from AEG. Michael must’ve been saving money somehow, therefore he wasn’t broke. And I can understand him not giving it to his numerous untrustworthy advisers.
    It makes me wonder why Michael didn’t make the payment that sent the Neverland loan into default? Did he really want to keep Neverland or was he resigned to let it be repossed to settle that debt?

  26. Seven says:

    Tohme was an untrustworthy adviser. MJ didn’t trust him himself. And he was still hanging around like a fruitfly after Michael died – even though he’d been fired. I found that very odd. I also found odd that DiLeo and Branca had been suddenly brought back a few weeks before MJ died – I’d like to know who exactly hired them back. The whole management shell-game going on there is – strange. There was always management shuffling going on with MJ but that’s a lot of shuffling in just a few short weeks. May be nothing to it but I personally find it strange.

    It’s a good question as to where that $5 million came from – and why Tohme had it. We have only HIS side of the story, don’t we?

    As far as debt, MJ was around $400 million in debt. $5 million wouldn’t have put a dent in that, while it may have made a nice down payment on a house.

  27. Heidi says:

    Seven, I thought Michael was completely finished with Neverland after the trial. His home, this place of healing, was raped and tarnished beyond repair and to my understanding he had never wanted to return or have anything to do with the property again. I was surprised to read that he feared LOSING Neverland. I know you must be exhausted explaining and re-explaining these things, but it is imperative that we understand the TRUTH in all of these matters, not speculation. We are his voice now and we cannot be incorrect about anything if we want the truth of what happened to this man to be heard. Thank you.

  28. june says:

    Shortly after Michael died is the time frame when Tohme turned the $5,000,000 over to the authorities; he claimed Michael was saving it for a house; this was the report at that time. Personally, I think Tohme was stealing from Michael all along, and after his demise, Tohme figured he would get “caught”, so turned over the cash. Fast forward about 10 months, and Leonard Rowe, in his book, cites almost the exact same sequence of events, that Tohme turned over $5,000,000 to authorities after Michael’s death, but leaves the reader to conclude what might have been behind it. Seven, you are correct, Tohme was an untrustworthy adviser; Michael terminated him but he would not leave. Rowe says in the book that DiLeo and Branca were brought back by AEG to “control” Michael. The question remains – where is Tohme today?

  29. Seven says:

    @Heidi

    He didn’t want to live at Neverland anymore but he did want to keep it, from what I understand. Why? Not sure. Maybe he wanted to have it open again to children even if he wasn’t living there. Maybe someone else knows. But I have read several places that he didn’t want to lose it. He just didn’t want to live there anymore. For one thing, Tom Mesereau told him (as did others I believe) that he needed to get out of there. The neighbors, no one wanted him there after that. And, his beautiful home had been ransacked so many times and the love and beauty of it was truly tarnished. So, he lived like a nomad for years. But he still wanted to retain the property, as I understand it. He very much did not want his things from Neverland – all his belongings, auctioned either but Tohme had them all packed up and shipped out and they are to this day sitting in a warehouse somewhere (several of them) waiting for release paperwork – which Tohme has refused to sign. I understand legal proceedings are going on to get that taken care of. Michael did NOT want this stuff auctioned.

  30. Susan T says:

    I read Lynton Guest’s book twice. I urge everyone to read it.
    While I do believe that Michael was a very shrewd and capable businessman, I think his ability to control every detail of his vast fortune and investments became severely compromised by the 1993 molestation allegation. Clearly, it cast a pall on his brilliant career that not even a huge settlement could erase. The mere suggestion of a person committing such an act is damaging beyond repair. It was the absolute worst thing that happened to him. I don’t think anyone can fully understand what effect it had on him. I do wonder if the conspiracy to kill him started then and the army of conspirators simply began to grow from there, e.g. press spokesmen, lawyers, publicists, record executives, columnists, medical personnel, etc. Can you dare to imagine what the 2005 trial did to him?

    The characters in his life came and went and some, at the last moments, reappeared as if long lost friends. Why? Who was making all these decisions? I honestly have little faith in anyone who was a part of his world except for just a few people. I don’t trust his family. Regardless of what one thinks of Taraborrelli’s book, even if only a small portion of it is true, you are left wondering how Michael was able to function as normally as he did. I think in researching the events leading up to his sad death, you need to be able to take what’s been said by everyone with a grain of salt.

    The bottom line? Nearly EVERYONE had their hand out! Only a couple people actually cared about Michael the human being and his children. To everyone else, Michael Jackson was simply a business and they were only interested in restructuring, rebuilding and if necessary demolishing the existing business in order to lay a new foundation. A foundation that didn’t need a “living” Michael Jackson to be enormously profitable. According to Lynton Guest, “In the days after the news rocked the world, sales of Jackson’s recordings went through the roof. In many territories his back catalogue comprised sixty percent of all music purchased. His videos were playing constantly on the music channels of the world. Phony was raking in money.”

    I just found this article. There are lots interesting articles about Fortress, Colony Capital and Tom Barrick.

    http://mjandjustice4some.blogspot.com/2010/07/colony-capital-buys-miramax.html

    Who in the world could Michael trust? The supposed lawyers that were negotiating his Phony contract also WORKED for Phony! What’s up with that? Talk about conflict of interest!

    All I know is that the executives of Phony appeared to be plotting Michael’s demise. Their pathetic sense of honor supposedly sullied by the actions of their biggest profit-maker. Deceit, corruption, drugs, and manipulation–the ugliest kind, born out of frightening threats–became the weapon by which the richest and most powerful entertainer was reduced to a controlled and exploited performer.

    And do you know what makes it even sadder? The LAPD doesn’t really care about digging deeper and exposing the “power players”. Dr. Murray will stand trial, possibly be convicted of negligent homicide, spend about two years in jail and life will return to normal for those who don’t care one way or another.

    If only Michael could have simply disappeared and reinvented himself. There’s just so much confusion and mystery surrounding his death.

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