The passing of Michael Jackson is a sad loss for the music world. Throughout his life, from the early days with the Jackson Five to dominating the pop music charts, the “King of Pop” was a tremendous singer and peerless entertainer. His album “Thriller,” is, by far, the best-selling album of all time, with more than one hundred million copies sold. But despite his successes, Jackson owed a staggering $400 Million in debts upon his death. Where did all the money go?
An expensive lifestyle: According to the New York Times, Jackson’s personal expenses cost nearly $7.5 million per year. These included costs such as million-dollar parties and frequent uses of private jets. In addition to the $7.5 million in personal expenses, Jackson also spent more than $5 million per year in upkeep of his Neverland Ranch property, a 2600-acre ranch in Los Olivos, CA with a private zoo, amusement park rides, and full-sized movie theater.
Spending on Credit: Throughout his career, Jackson often spent more than he earned. In 1998, he had already borrowed (and spent) $90 million in a banking loan, and was forced to borrow an additional $140 million to cover his various consumer debts. As interest rates continued to rise, Jackson was forced for borrow more and more; in 2000, he borrowed $60 million more.
Questionable Investments: Jackson enjoyed financing movies and other pet projects. Throughout the 1990s, he spent nearly $65 million on various film endeavors, many of which did not produce any real returns.
Lawsuits: In 1993, Jackson settled a famous child molestation lawsuit for nearly $20 million. Throughout his career, he was sued for similar actions and the resulting legal expenses drained his finances, often costing millions of dollars per year.
Michael Jackson was a brilliant, iconic performer, but reckless spending habits eventually caught up with him. His tragic situation is a sobering lesson that even if you are wildly successful, it is always important to be careful of your finances.