Frazer Harrison  /  Getty Images file
Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch in California is part of the collateral for a $270 million bank loan taken out by the pop singer. Jackson missed a payment on the loan earlier this year.
By Jerry Cobb Reporter
updated 6/14/2005 6:28:27 PM ET 2005-06-14T22:28:27

Even with his acquittal, Michael Jackson has suffered a devastating blow to his financial future. Once one of the richest performers in show business, today the one-time king of pop is on the edge of insolvency, struggling under a mountain of debt.

In 1985, at the peak of his career, Michael Jackson bought the rights to more than 250 Beatles songs for $47.5 million, outbidding Paul McCartney. Soon after, the king of pop's career headed south.

"Musically he had bit of a hard time adapting to the changing black music world when hip-hop became a commercial force," said Craig Marks, editor-in-chief of Blender magazine.

In 1995, after paying $25 million to settle child molestation charges, Jackson merged the Beatles catalog with Sony music publishing, creating Sony ATV music, a 50-50 joint venture with rights to more than 200,000 songs. 

As his record and concert sales continued to slide, Jackson relied on royalties from Sony ATV to finance an increasingly eccentric lifestyle that included $40,000 charter flights for friends and $1.5 million in monthly overhead expenses.

"When all his various weirdnesses not just became public but he started flaunting them, it made it harder for people to relate him in any tangible way," said Marks.

By 2000, Jackson had borrowed $270 million from Bank of America, using his interest in Sony ATV, his own music catalog and the Neverland ranch as collateral.

Two months ago, after Jackson missed a payment on the loans, Bank of America sold the loan portfolio to Fortress Investments, a private equity firm specializing in distressed debt.

"It appears that in late December of this year his loans will come due and he may not be able to meet the demands from his new lender, Fortress Investments," said Dan Schechter, a professor at the Loyola Law School. "They may have no compunction about foreclosing on his interest in the Apple Music catalog that he and Sony co-own."

Industry experts estimate the value of the Sony ATV catalog at around $1 billion. While Jackson's share may be enough to pay off his bank loans, he still faces an estimated $10 million in legal fees and millions more in other debts. 

On the plus side, he's still an international star, and at least one record label has expressed a willingness to sign him again. But after all the negative publicity from this trial, that may be a long shot.

© 2012 CNBC, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 3.79%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.69%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.83%
Cash Back Cards 17.80%
Rewards Cards 17.18%