Photos: Jackson memorabilia auction

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  1. Memorabilia auction

    A collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia is up for auction in Las Vegas — a potentially lucrative coincidence a day after the singer’s death. The slideshow contains items that will be auctioned. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Ralph Cowan portrait

    Ralph Cowan painted this portrait of Jackson and his deceased chimpanzee Bubbles in 1991. (Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. The gloves

    A custom display Jackson's signature crystal glove in four different colors. They've been mounted to custom-posed mannequin hands and mounted to a black Plexiglass base with a clear Plexiglass cover. Each glove is covered in Swarovski loch rosen crystals. (Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Thai military uniform

    Jackson's brown wool uniform consists of pants, black belt, mock button-down and zip-front shirt with military pins and patches, including the star's name in both Thai and English. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. David Nordhal triptych

    David Nordhal painted this triptych featuring Jackson as a knight being crowned, left, a crusader, center, and being knighted with a sword, right. The painting also contains the words: "I am the thinker, the thinking, the thought. I am the seeker, the seeking, the sought. I am the dewdrop, the sunshine, the storm. I am the desert, the ocean, the sky. I am the Primeval Self in you and I." (Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Rolls Royce

    Michael Jackson traveled in style in this Rolls Royce limousine. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Gold-painted bust

    The Michael Jackson's gold-painted bust from the "Thriller" era shows Jackson in in aviator shades and a military jacket. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 12-inch dolls

    This set of four custom Michael Jackson dolls sported outfits from different iconic moments in his career. The outfits include those used in the "Beat It" and Billie Jean" videos. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Toys for a boy-man.

    Some of Michael Jackson's vast collection of toys are shown here. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. "Bad" video costume

    A staff member shows the belt and costume worn by singer Michael Jackson during the filming of the song "Bad" from the "Thriller" album. (Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Life-sized Elvis Presley

    Jackson's life-sized statue of Elvis Presley was inscribed by Sam Phillips in black Sharpie. He wrote, "If I can only find a white man with a black man's sound, I could make a million dollars." (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Superman, video games

    The pop star owned a limited-edition statue of Superman. Jackson had many, many video games including a "Simpsons'" pinball machine, "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" game, "Indiana Jones" pinball, "Terminator 3" pinball, "Star Trek" pinball. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Darth Vader in LEGOs

    Jackson had a life-sized replica of Darth Vader made entirely of LEGOs over a steel frame. When turned on, the figure breathes heavily and recites eight different lines of "Star Wars" dialogue, including "You have failed me for the last time." (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Michael Jackson's items are seen on disp
    Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (13) Jackson memorabilia auction in 2009 - Jackson memorabilia auction
  2. Image: Michael Jackson fans embrace in New York on day of Jackson's memorial service
    Mike Segar / Reuters
    Slideshow (52) Jackson memorabilia auction in 2009 - Reaction to Jackson's death
  3. Michael Jackson in a Butterfly Collar Shirt
    Henry Diltz / Corbis
    Slideshow (36) Jackson memorabilia auction in 2009 - Life and career
By
updated 6/26/2009 11:57:05 AM ET 2009-06-26T15:57:05

The King of Pop will likely leave behind one royal estate battle.

Michael Jackson, the onetime child star whose string of hit songs got people boogying from Boise to Bahrain, died suddenly Thursday after being rushed to UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles in a coma. The singer faced a near-constant drumbeat of legal troubles in life. He'll likely cue up plenty of them in death as well.

Although he sold hundreds of millions of records, Jackson's biggest financial hit was a 50 percent interest in a music publishing catalog that includes the rights to the Beatles' songs.

Jackson, 50, always stayed one beat ahead of a conga line of creditors. At every turn there seemed to be one more wealthy benefactor to bail him out. Most recently that was Thomas Barrack, the founder of the Los Angeles real estate investment firm Colony Capital. Last year, Barrack purchased Jackson's Neverland Ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif., for $22 million, just before the property was sold at auction to cover back debts.

Barrack also brought in Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, who was helping finance a comeback for the singer. Jackson was scheduled to play a series of 50 concerts at London's O2 Arena, which Anschutz owns. The concerts, for which Jackson was to be paid $1 million per night, were to begin July 13. Spokespeople for both Barrack and Anschutz's entertainment business declined to comment.

A genius of a songwriter and performer, Jackson was not so in tune with his personal finances. At one point the star owed more than $270 million to Bank of America. In 2005 the bank sold that debt at a discount to the private equity firm Fortress Investment Group.

Jackson, who reportedly spent as much as $30 million a year during the good times on clothes, travel, and toys for his ranch, successfully fought an attempt to auction many of his personal possessions earlier this year. Over the years those suing Jackson for past-due bills included his former publicist, video director, attorney, and financial advisers.

Not much is known about Jackson's estate planning or will. He leaves behind three children and his well-known brothers, sisters, mother, and father. The star had one asset that will likely be the target of much maneuvering by creditors and heirs in the coming months and years—his 50 percent interest in the Sony/ATV music catalog. Shortly after his string of early 1980s hits that included Thriller, one of the best-selling albums of all time, Jackson was shrewdly advised to buy the Beatles catalog for $47 million. Ten years later, Jackson merged his music company with Sony Corp.'s music publishing arm in a deal reportedly worth $90 million to him.

Today, that company owns the publishing rights to thousands of hit songs by everyone from Neil Diamond to Lady Gaga. Jackson's half interest has been estimated to be worth as much as $500 million. Jackson's own hits are owned by a separate company, also now part of his estate. But like his life, Jackson's estate is unlikely to be settled without controversy.

Copyright © 2012 Bloomberg L.P.All rights reserved.

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