The "King of Pop" sold an astounding 750 million albums. "Thriller" alone sold more than 100 million copies, the most successful studio album of all time.
But Michael Jackson's penchant for the opulent and the oddball led him to the brink of financial ruin. He also had to fund a team of lawyers to fend off continual lawsuits. By the time of his 2005 molestation trial, court records showed Jackson was $300 million in debt and spending $30 million more per year than he was taking in.
"He lost interest in how much was being made, how much he had and how much was lost along the way," said Jackson biographer Randy Taraborelli.
During one shopping spree captured in a 2003 documentary Jackson spent nearly $6 million.
He funded his elaborate lifestyle by borrowing against his three main assets: his Neverland valley ranch worth as much as $90 million; his own music catalog, as well as a second catalog he co-owned with Sony. It includes more than 250 Beatles songs. Jackson outbid Paul McCartney for the rights in the mid 80's.
In March Jackson announced his comeback, returning to the stage for 50 shows in London.
"This will be it," Jackson declared. "And when I say this will be it, it really will be it."
Seven hundred fifty thousand tickets sold out in just four hours - $85 million that now needs to be refunded. Jackson was expected to earn $20-30 million from the shows plus a potential $400 million for an expected worldwide tour.
He needed the money. Neverland and many of his possessions were almost sold at auction and the house paramedics showed up at yesterday was one Jackson was renting for a reported $100,000 per month.
In Hollywood, Michael Jackson's fans are gathering at a makeshift shrine. As for his will, the big question will be the fate of that music catalog containing the lucrative Beatles songs. It alone is worth an estimated $500 million.
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