Zack O’Malley Greenburg is a senior editor for Forbes Magazine and he’s been covering the estate since Jackson’s death.
Lara Logan: How much did his lifestyle and his personality have to do with his debt?
Zack O’Malley Greenburg: He never stopped spending like it was the 1980s. We charted it in Forbes. I mean, he was making $50, $60, $80, over $100 million some of those years-- and even into the 90s, but after the first allegations in 1993, he never toured in the U.S. again. He never got another endorsement deal in his lifetime.
Lara Logan: The first allegations of child abuse?
Zack O’Malley Greenburg: In 1993, correct. He became in many ways radioactive to brands and to the sorts of companies that would, you know, contribute to those massive paydays in the 80s. And the upkeep on a place like Neverland, you know, the spending on antiques and so forth and the maintenance of his entourage and all of that, you know, really-- it really added up.
Lara Logan: This is one of how many warehouses that you have?
Karen Langford: Five.
You can see how he spent his money and some of what made up his extravagant lifestyle in this California warehouse.
Lara Logan: Wow that’s the actual sign from Neverland?
Karen Langford: That is the actual sign from Neverland that was over the gates.
Karen Langford was friends with Michael Jackson and worked with him from 1981 until his death. She’s now the archivist for the Jackson estate. There are rows and rows, floor to ceiling, of Jackson’s possessions, most of it never seen publicly since he died. This warehouse is 20,000 square feet. Every inch of it is full. There are antiques and video games from Neverland ranch, his Grammys...
Lara Logan: Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male 1983. Billie Jean.
And 30 years of cars he never wanted to get rid of.
Lara Logan: Are these all Michael’s cars?
Karen Langford: Uh, these are some of them.
Lara Logan: Some of them?
Karen Langford: Some of them.
Lara Logan: More cars.
Karen Langford: More cars.
Lara Logan: It’s another Rolls Royce.
Karen Langford: Yeah, well, there’s a few.
Lara Logan: Did he drive any of these cars?
Karen Langford: He did drive on occasion.
Late in his life Michael Jackson financed much of his lifestyle by routinely borrowing against his assets, but it wasn’t these personal belongings that he used as collateral.
Although the copyright value of his own songs was worth well in excess of a hundred million dollars, the crown jewel of his investment strategy was his portfolio of other people’s songs - especially those of the Beatles.
Lara Logan: Tell me about the music catalog, the publishing catalog that you advised Michael to buy.
John Branca: We started with the Sly & the Family Stone catalog, we bought some rock classics, People Get Ready by Curtis Mayfield. Dion & The Belmonts, Runaround Sue, The Wanderer. When a Man Loves a Woman. Great Balls of Fire. Shake, Rattle, and Roll. But then one day I got the call that the Beatles catalog was for sale. It was called ATV Music. And it was as if we had hit the mother lode.
Lara Logan: And you paid?
John Branca: The price was $47.5 million. And we later merged it with Sony’s music publishing company to create one of the biggest publishers in the world, Sony ATV Music, that the estate, to this day, owns 50 percent of.