This is how Michael Jackson lost all his money

Michael Jackson is widely hailed as the King of Pop, but at the time of his death he might as well have been known as the Duke of Debt. The eccentric singer started at the age of 6 as the lead singer of the borderline quintet The Jackson Five with his brothers. The group found success in the ’70s with chart-topping hits like “I Want You Back” and “ABC,” but as Jackson went from child star to teen idol, he craved fame in his own right and embarked on a solo career. With the release of his fifth solo album, Off The Wall, in 1979, Jackson had finally established himself as a solo act to be reckoned with.

Much like his dance moves, Jackson’s rise to fame seemed to defy gravity, and his magnum opus “Thriller” followed in 1982, bringing the singer a level of superstar status previously only known to Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Frank Sinatra – he all enjoyed it the riches that came with it.

Jackson is believed to have made more than $1.1 billion over the course of his music career, but when he gushed about being “bad” on his eponymous 1987 album, he might as well have been referring to his ability to balance a check book. It seems unlikely that an artist who has sold more than 750 million records over the course of his career could find himself in such a precarious financial situation, but it appears that the King of Pop died broke.

Michael Jackson had a spending problem

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Unfortunately, the ’90s weren’t kind to Jackson, and the singer had something of a spending problem. According to Billboard, Jackson received annual royalties from his catalog of music — including the Beatles’ greatest hits — but it wasn’t enough to keep him out of debt. Only in the process of the singer’s wrongful death in 2011 did his dangerous financial situation become known.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, forensic accountant William Ackerman testified at the trial that the King of Pop had an insatiable taste for consumerism. “He spent a lot of money on jewelry,” Ackerman claimed, further hinting that the singer spent a royal ransom to maintain his cherished Neverland Ranch, which he called “a mini-theme park” for its maintenance staff, zoo, and Train.

Mirror UK also outlined Jackson’s frequent spending sprees, one of which in 2008 included a trip to a London department store where the singer reportedly spent more than $100,000 in 15 minutes. He reportedly skimmed catalogs just to purchase each item on offer, and reportedly dropped $75,000 for a limited-edition perfume that came in a platinum, gold, and diamond flacon.

Michael Jackson had to pay off his accusers and borrow millions

Michael Jackson was notoriously accused of child sexual abuse in 1993 by 13-year-old Jordie Chandler. According to CNN, Jackson paid approximately $25 million to settle a civil lawsuit the boy filed in 1994. “It’s a tragic journey, financially, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, legally,” his publicist Michael Levine said (via Billboard).

According to the Los Angeles Times, Jackson began borrowing large sums of money around the time of the allegations. William Ackerman testified during the singer’s wrongful death trial that his largest single expenses came from interest on his loans, with Jackson paying $30 million annually on his debts until his death.

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The outlet added that Jackson owed $30 million as early as 1993, which grew to $140 million by 1998. His debt only increased from 2001 to 2009, with Jackson adding $170 million in financial obligations. By the time he died in 2009, the singer was reportedly in a $400 million financial hole.