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Michael Jackson: Next Stop Vegas?
Aired May 27, 2003 - 19:53 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Singer Michael Jackson is no stranger to controversy. But is the King of Pop nearly tapped out? Say it's not so.
Over the last 20 years, he's racked up nearly half a billion dollars, but his former financial advisers says Jackson's extravagance has made him a, quote, "ticking financial time bomb." Those advisers, Union Finance Investment of South Korea have filed suit against Jackson and they say he owes them millions.
Try to find out some answers right now. Brett Pulley watches carefully how people handle their money. He's the senior editor of "Forbes" magazine. Is this another case of someone trying to grab a piece of the singer's fortune or is he really in trouble? What do you think?
BRETT PULLEY, SENIOR EDITOR, "FORBES": Clearly, Michael Jackson's biggest problem is spending. He has for a long time earned a significant amount money as you pointed out. Most of those earnings though came in the late '80s and early '90s when he had the tremendous records like "Off The Wall"....
COOPER: Because "Forbes" initially was saying -- I think last year they said his worth some $350 million.
PULLEY: Well, yes. But what we really did was, yes, the money that he's earned from tours, the money he's earned from records and said well he's earned over half a billion dollars. Then he has assets, substantial assets.
But the fact of the matter is the problem is he also has substantial liens against his assets. The biggest asset that Michael has is 50 percent of Sony's music publishing. And that's commonly referred to as the Beatles' catalog. What really happened is Michael bought the Beatle's catalog, merged it in with Sony publishing, took 50 percent. So he has 50 percent of all of those songs.
COOPER: And he still has that but it's used as collateral for various loans from Sony...
COOPER: The question of course is how can you go through $350 million. Want to show a little bit of a clip from this Martin Bashir documentary that aired earlier in the year. Might provide some answers. Let's take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL JACKSON, ENTERTAINER: I bought this one, right?
MARTIN BASHIR, FILMMAKER: Is this yours?
JACKSON: Yes, that's the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) me is for me.
BASHIR: OK. How much is that one?
JACKSON: Did we ever get this one? These ones?
BASHIR: It's only 89,000.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
JACKSON: Can you put that on the list?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course.
JACKSON: get your pen just so you can mark and not forget.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm getting the list now.
JACKSON: OK. Can we get those?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe so.
JACKSON: I like those. Why don't we order those?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes, why don't we order those?
And he ended up spending some like a million dollars or something right then and there.
PULLEY: Well you know there's a jeweler in Beverly Hills who Michael bought a $2 million watch from. And this jeweler says Michael is a great customer, but he's not the smartest customer. He says other rich people come in here and they negotiate. But Michael just comes and says yes, give me this.
COOPER: One or two, at least.
In the article you talk about items he's purchase for Elizabeth Taylor. A $10,000 bottle of perfume.
PULLEY: These are spur of the moment purchases. Supposedly on his way to visit Elizabeth Taylor at the Belliagio he stopped and bought a $10,000 bottle of perfume.
COOPER: And then he stayed in New York, some hotel and spent in couple of days $100,000 on a hotel bill. You mentioned that $2 million watch. What is going to happen to him? PULLEY: Look, this is the thing. This is anecdotal spending. But the biggest the thing that really underscores his spending is the $30 million that he spent to produce "Invincible" a year and a half ago.
COOPER: That was his latest album which really did not do -- it sold several million covers, but that's nothing for him.
PULLEY: That's right. And you have big pop stars like Britney Spears and *NSYNC, they spend $3 to $5 million on an album and they're selling a lot more units these days.
COOPER: So a Britney Spears album cost $5 million to produce. Jackson spent how much?
PULLEY: Thirty million.
PULLEY: And he's spending like he's still the King of Pop and the records don't sell the same. The big issue for Michael going forward is what does he do next? How does he earn money? How does he continue to some extent live the same lifestyle that he's grown accustom to?
COOPER: Your solution?
PULLEY: I don't know if there's a solution. Celine Dion seems to have a really good thing there in Las Vegas where they've built a theater for her. People are paying over $100 a night to go see her.
COOPER: Jackson could be along with Siegfried and Roy and the other...
PULLEY: It might be a comedown for him, but I would think that those people who visit Las Vegas and pull those slots all day would just love to have an up close and personal evening with Michael Jackson.
COOPER: Well, hey, Michael Jackson, if you're listening, that's an option for you right there.
Brett Pulley, appreciate you joining us.
PULLEY: My pleasure. Thank you.
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