The tangled web of Michael Jackson’s finances & John Branca




Part 1: How Jackson Nearly Lost His Prized Music Catalog
Part 2: A Music Superlawyer Goads Jackson Into “Thriller”
Part 3: How Jackson Snagged the Beatles’ Songs
Part 4: Fired, the Superlawyer Returns to Bail Jackson Out
Part 5:  A Superlawyer Returns, a Pop Icon Dies


A Wrap Series: The tangled web of Michael Jackson’s finances and his tumultuous 30 years of dealings with the superlawyer who now rules his estate — the first of five parts


Part 1: How Jackson Nearly Lost His Prized Music Catalog

(This article has been updated to include a response from a representative for John Branca.)

No one said that ruling Michael Jackson’s inner circle would be a moonwalk.

Just a year and a half after his death, lawyer John G. Branca is about to oversee the release of a posthumous album on Dec. 14 under a new $250 million deal for the estate. And as a prelude, he has successfully renegotiated a massive $300-millon bank loan left by Jackson that was  due this month, too.


But did Branca, who had a hand in nearly all of MJ’s most brilliant career and financial moves, always have his client’s best interests at heart? According to documents obtained by TheWrap, the lawyer tried to help along a deal that would have dispossessed Jackson of the music catalogue he held most dear — while making Branca considerably richer.

(A lawyer for Branca responds: While the Goldman proposal might have divested Michael Jackson of his interest in the Beatles and MIJAC catalogues in the long run, it would have created a larger entity that increased the value of his interests. If sold, Branca’s fee would have gone to his firm, not directly into his pocket. Branca advised Jackson that he would be giving up too much control based on the proposal and Jackson vetoed the deal.)


Branca has never embraced the limelight. But in a months-long investigation that included secret documents and two dozen interviews — one with Branca himself — TheWrap reveals the complicated relationship between the singer and the lawyer that Jackson would hire for the last time within a week of his death.


In that short, final tenure, Branca was left permanently in charge of one of the most important music legacies of our time.


Branca’s roller-coaster relationship with Jackson unfolds over 30 years of hiring and refiring.


It is punctuated by moments of brilliance, such as when the lawyer orchestrated Jackson’s purchase of the Beatles’ song catalogue, ATV Music, perhaps the most important deal of Jackson’s life.


But some might conclude that Branca is no hero at all. A proposal in 2003 that would have sold Jackson’s interests in the Beatles’ and Mijac catalogues to the investment bank Goldman Sachs would lead some to question Branca’s role in Jackson’s business affairs.



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