The following script is from “Michael Jackson” which aired on May 19, 2013, and was rebroadcast on Sept. 8, 2013. Lara Logan is the correspondent. John Hamlin, producer.
It’s been over four years since Michael Jackson died, but he continues to make headlines. Some of them coming out of a Los Angeles courtroom right now where his mother is suing for damages over his death from a powerful anesthetic in June 2009. But, as we first showed you last spring, the headline of this story is that Michael Jackson is making more money after his death than he ever did when he was alive.
Tonight you’ll hear about the most remarkable financial and image resurrection in pop culture history. And get a rare look at what Michael Jackson left behind. The Michael Jackson brand is alive and well. Well-paid that is. Extremely well-paid.
Barcelona, Spain. The 297th performance of the Michael Jackson IMMORTAL World Tour. Cirque du Soleil produces the show featuring their acrobats and contortionists, but Michael Jackson -- or at least his music -- is the star.
John Branca: We sold 230,000 tickets in two days in Japan. We did 90,000 people in Moscow. 190,000 people in Mexico City alone.
John Branca is an executor of Michael Jackson’s estate -- an architect, if you will -- of how to make money off his legacy, most of which will eventually be turned over to Jackson’s three children. Branca was Jackson’s lawyer and advisor off and on for over 25 years and negotiated many of the singer’s biggest deals during his lifetime.
Lara Logan: It’s just unbelievable. Michael Jackson sells more tickets dead than most artists do alive.
John Branca: That is absolutely true. Worldwide box office now is over $300 million. And Michael has almost 60 million Facebook friends. He’s the biggest selling artist on iTunes and he’s sold approximately 50 million albums since he passed away.
Lara Logan: It feels like you can’t talk about all those great things about Michael without talking about the fact that his image was so battered and tarnished by the time of his death. Have his fans just forgotten about all of that? About all the weirdness?
John Branca: As managers of the estate, we don’t really pay attention to the tabloids. We look at the Michael that we knew, the real Michael, the artistic genius, the visionary.
Lara Logan: The real Michael Jackson also told Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes that he let young boys sleep in his bed. You can’t run away from that right? You can’t hide from it.
John Branca: Well, I don’t recall that interview and, um, I just know the Michael Jackson that I knew was somebody I considered, you know, a very honorable person.
John Branca chooses his words carefully. Another subject he doesn’t like to discuss is Michael Jackson’s family. Jackson’s father and some of his siblings challenged Branca as executor and the validity of Jackson’s will. But the California courts upheld the will and Branca’s ability to carry out Michael Jackson’s wishes.
John Branca: There was a series of wills and they were substantively almost identical.
Lara Logan: In that 20 percent went to charity, 40 percent went to his children, and 40 percent went to his mother as long as she was alive, and on her death would go to the children. The basic principle never changed.
John Branca: Never changed. The whole objective of Michael’s estate plan is to take care of his mother during her lifetime and to accumulate the principle and assests for the benefit of Michael’s children.
The will named Branca and John McClain, a longtime friend of Michael Jackson, as co-executors. Jackson’s crippled image was not the only thing they had to contend with. At first glance, Michael Jackson left more debt than anything.
Zack O’Malley Greenburg: The day he died, Michael Jackson had about half a billion dollars in debt.