Big Fortunes After A Famous Death: The Business Of Michael Jackson’s Estate… By The Numbers

June 25, 2014  |  

It’s unfathomable that Michael Jackson, from six feet under, can still — to this day — make a fortune. But it will blow your mind to know that MJ’s making millions more than the full-of-life King of Pop at the peak of his career.

June 25th marks the fifth anniversary of Jackson’s passing. So hey, why not commemorate the Moonwalkin’ Master with a “by the numbers” story?

Honoring his father’s passing, Prince — the King of Pop’s 17-year old son — is working closely with the many charities MJ has supported. “He was always concerned about humanity,” Prince said. “In his songs his message was simple — love.” The numbers don’t lie. Sources say Jackson gave up $500 million in his lifetime to countless causes.

His philanthropic heart landed him in The Guinness Book of World Records for being the most charitable pop star.

Today, if MJ’s ghost felt a bit generous, he’d have $700 million at his disposal to yield to various charities. That’s right — since the King of Pop’s death five years ago, Jackson has made just $300 million short of $1 billion, according to The Telegraph.

According to Business Insider, MJ made $160 million last year. He’s the highest-earning dead celebrity, far surpassing Elvis Presley — No.2 — by $105 million.

“Michael Jackson is making more money now, five years after his death, than he had been since the prime of his career,” said Zack Greenburg, author of Michael Jackson Inc.

At the pinnacle of fame, the beloved Billie Jean performer reeled in almost $100 million a year.

After Jackson’s tragic death, his estate’s first lucrative venture was the This Is It film — the motion picture made over $261 million worldwide. The Jackson estate also possesses the Beatles’ entire music catalog; it’s currently worth $1 billion, Fox News reports. MJ bought the collection for $47.5 million in 1985 — or $106 million in today’s inflation rate. What a return!

The estate is also bathing in cash from its 2010 $250 million Sony contract. According to The Wall Street Journal, the deal allows Sony to release 10 Jackson albums over a span of seven years. Sony is hoping that the MJ appeal will linger until 2017, but the latest posthumous Jackson album sales have been surprisingly sluggish.

The MJ CD, Xscape, only sold 286,000 copies after four weeks of sales (Coldplay’s Ghost Stories bested MJ with 386,000 units sold in two weeks). The Billboard Music Awards‘ King of Pop hologram was actually a marketing ploy for Xscape — it had the world talkin’, but definitely not buyin’.

As of last week, Xscape had sold 309,000 copies since its May 13 release. These numbers pale next to MJ’s other posthumous album sales: This Is It (890,000 copies) and Michael (434,000), according to Billboard.

But projects like the Las Vegas Cirque Du Soleil tour remind us that Michael Jackson’s still got it. It’s one of the highest grossing music tours of all time. Catering to more than two million fans, the spectacular show has raked in $340 million, the Tampa Bay Times says.

So who oversees of the Jackson estate? MJ’s lawyer John Branca and music executive John McClain.”The executors of Jackson’s  estate have been paid more than $25 million in compensation,” Fox News said. Jackson’s kids — Prince, Paris and Blanket — receive $8 million a year, according to The New York Post.

Taxes and business licenses are the estate’s biggest expense: $91 million between 2009 and 2013.

The estimated worth of the Moonwalk Master’s estate is over $1 billion.

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