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The story of MICHAEL JACKSON, TOHME, NEVERLAND and IRRELEVANT QUESTIONS. Part 3

March 28, 2013

This post was prompted by some discussion in the comments about Neverland – whether it was really saved by Colony Capital or the “saving” was a publicity stunt. As full and proper facts are not open to us we will have to go by the shreds of information we have, trying to connect the dots.

TOHME

We know that Tohme was instrumental for the Neverland deal as it was him who brought in Tom Barrack of Colony Capital. Depending on the source Tohme is described as Barrack’s “close personal friend”, his former business associate and as someone working for Colony Capital at the moment of the deal. 

Bankruptcy documents for Tohme also call him Thomme. Yes, at some point in time he evidently filed bankruptcy

Bankruptcy documents for Tohme also call him Thomme. Yes, at some point in time he filed for bankruptcy

The Associated Press calls Tohme’s past “murky” so this wide variety of opinion about the man shouldn’t surprise us. We do not even know how to spell his name – Tohme and Thomme as even here there are some variants, so how can we know anything about his past and present?

One article says that Tohme worked with Colony Capital previously and calls him a doctor which was later said to be wrong:

July 5, 2009

More from the Business Mirror and Dr. Tohme: 

“In an interview last week Dr. Tohme Tohme, an orthopedic surgeon-turned-businessman who had previously worked with Colony Capital, identified himself as the singer’s manager, spokesman, everything, and spoke about the benefits of dealing with business titans Barrack and Anschutz rather than their ‘sleazy’ predecessors. ‘Michael Jackson is an institution. He needs to be run like an institution,” Tohme said. http://deathby1000papercuts.com/2009/07/michael-jacksons-death-neverland-the-mysterious-dr-tohme-president-of-michael-jackson-productions/

And Roger Friedman wrote another article which says that Tohme was working for Colony Capital at the time of the deal.

Friedman’s own name is not free from controversy, but he had the advantage of at least interviewing Tohme and was therefore privy to first-hand information. His article also details the Estate’s claim against Tohme, the Julien’s auction stopped by Michael, and correctly says that Tohme is no doctor and no ambassador at large though he claims otherwise: 

February 17, 2012

Michael Jackson‘s estate has finally filed a lawsuit against Tohme Tohme, who used to call himself “Doctor.” Tohme was Michael Jackson’s penultimate manager–meaning he was replaced just before Jackson’s death by Jackson’s longtime manager and friend, Frank DiLeo. But Tohme, the estate says in a complaint filed by attorney Howard Weitzman, ran amok during his short term between January 2008 and March 2009. It was Tohme, working for Thomas Barrack‘s Colony Capital, who pulled off the sale of Neverland to Colony.

But according to the complaint, Jackson never understood that Tohme was also going to receive a finder’s fee for doing work for his own employer. Jackson had no lawyer representing him in his many signed agreements with Tohme, and so didn’t understand that when Colony came up with $24 million to bail out Neverland, Tohme would get $2.4 million.

Tohme, the complaint further reads, got Jackson to sign an agreement paying him $35,000 a month. He was also to receive 15% of all gross compensation Jackson received for anything he did in the entertainment field. Jackson signed not one but two Power of Attorney documents giving Tohme “extraordinary” powers. He also gave himself a $100,000 per month producers fee for the run of Jackson’s London concert dates–from July 2009 through at least March 2010.

All of this Jackson signed without a lawyer, and despite numerous stories (many written by yours truly) about Tohme’s many assertions about his credentials being false.It was during Tohme’s regime, for example, that the contents of Neverland were emptied and consigned to an auction house in Beverly Hills. The auction didn’t proceed when Jackson finally got a grip, and a lawyer, stopped the auction. Tohme then took back the contents and warehoused them.

When Jackson died, the estate had to negotiate with him to get back the property. Out of luck was Julien’s Auction House, which published a now collectible catalog of everything that had been in Neverland.“Tohme took possession and control of money and property that belonged to Jackson. Tomhe did not return to Jackson and refuses to deliver to the executors all of the property and cash belonging to Jackson that Tohme took possession and control of.”

On a side note, Tohme used to claim he was a doctor from Lebanon. But he could never prove to me that he was a doctor and when I questioned him about it in 2008, he told me wasn’t practicing. He did say he was Ambassador at Large to Senegal, but their Embassies denied it.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerfriedman/2012/02/17/michael-jackson-executors-finally-sue-singers-final-manager/

Since the page which had this article is no longer found for some reason, I am posting a link to mjjjusticeproject where the article was copied: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/jha5ot

‘SAVING’ NEVERLAND

When you look at the way the Neverland deal is presented by the press the first impression is that it was a Godsend of a deal. The foreclosure note on Neverland warning Michael of an imminent public auction in case he did not pay was purchased by Colony Capital in spring 2008 and this was followed by the November 2008 news about a joint venture formed with Michael Jackson and giving him some share in it.

This article explains it:

Michael Jackson gives Neverland to corporation

November 13,2008 By Robert Jablon, Associated Press Writer

The singer filed a grant deed on the ranch Monday that makes the new owner an entity called the Sycamore Valley Ranch Co. LLC, Tom Pearson of the Santa Barbara County clerk-recorder’s office said Wednesday.Sycamore Valley Ranch Co. is a joint venture between Jackson and an affiliate of Colony Capital LLC, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction who was not authorized to speak on the record and requested anonymity.

The person could not say what would become of the 2,500-acre property in the bucolic, oak-studded hills of Santa Barbara County’s wine country, 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles. A call to an attorney for Jackson, L. Londell McMillan, was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Jackson had gone into default on the $24.5 million he owes on the property and had faced foreclosure before Colony Capital bailed him out earlier this year by purchasing his loan.

Pearson said the deed did not indicate who owns Sycamore.A listing on the California secretary of state’s Web site says the company filed with the state in June.

It does not identify its owners, but the company has the same Century City address as Colony Capital LLC.Colony Capital is a Los Angeles-based real estate investment company run by billionaire Tom Barrack. It owns several properties in Las Vegas, including the Las Vegas Hilton.

The property was called Sycamore Valley Ranch before Jackson bought it in 1988 and began turning it into a miniature amusement park with a zoo, Ferris wheel, roller coaster and other rides.At the height of his popularity, the superstar invited thousands of children to play on the grounds.

He renamed the ranch after the mythical land of Peter Pan and set about creating the magical childhood experiences he said his career as a child star had denied him.“It’s like stepping into Oz,” he once said of Neverland.

“Once you come in the gates, the outside world does not exist.”Jackson has struggled to pay his debts since his financial empire began to crumble following his arrest in 2003 on charges that he molested a 13-year-old boy at the ranch. He has not been seen in the Los Olivos area since a jury acquitted him of all charges, and recent aerial photos show the ranch falling into disrepair. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/music/2008-11-13-565952169_x.htm

Who owns the property as a result of the deal was not disclosed, however some details may be deduced by comparing the two key factors. The first key factor was found by blogger Justice4some:

Richard Siklos, editor-in-chief of Fortune Magazine, wrote in October, 2009, that “under the terms of an agreement struck with Jackson after Colony Capital purchased the note on the property for $23.5 million, when Neverland is eventually sold, Colony will recoup its investment in the note plus the accrued interest, its management and upkeep expenses, and around 12% of above that as a success fee. The rest will go to the Estate.”

Essentially, this means that the Michael Jackson Estate will receive a large profit of the sale of Neverland, or the Estate could have the option to buy the property.

http://mjandjustice4some.blogspot.de/search/label/Sycamore%20Valley%20Ranch

It looks like the editor-in-chief of Fortune Magazine explained the deal the way it is customary to make it – someone puts out the fire by bringing in the money, helps to settle the problem and then gets his money back together with the interest and fee, finally withdrawing from the scene. 

And the Colony Capital deal is described here in the same customary manner – Tom Barrack puts out the fire by buying the loan, then he and Michael Jackson jointly find the best customer and Tom Barrack gets his money back with all the expenses paid plus his interest and fee for the timely help. The sum remaining from selling the ranch to some third party goes to Michael or the Estate acting on his behalf. 

This is a customary scheme and this is probably how the deal was explained to Michael. Well, at least Richard Siklos who conveys to us the impression that he actually saw the documents was under the same impression too.

However two years after the news about Neverland was reported some new details surfaced in the press, and the person who disclosed them was no other but Tom Barrack himself.

He spoke to at least two newspapers about the success of his transaction and in the process disclosed one detail which makes to us all the difference in the world.

This essential detail was a condition Tom Barrack accompanied the deal with. This condition was that he would buy the foreclosure note on Neverland only if he himself became owner of it (the other condition was Michael’s deal with AEG): 

Nov 28, 2010

Colony would bail Jackson out of his substantial debt; in return, the firm would assume ownership of Neverland, and Jackson, after a thirteen-year hiatus, would go back to work to generate new revenue. http://nymag.com/news/business/69782/index1.html

As if trying to bring home to us the crucial elements of the deal the New York Magazine states these conditions twice on each page of their article:

But in this case, the operating business was a person.  Colony agreed to bail out Jackson; in return, the firm would take ownership of Neverland and arrange for AEG, the concert promoter owned by Barrack’s friend Phil Anschutz, to stage a comeback. http://nymag.com/news/business/69782/index2.html

This is the article which used to be in the Internet

This article from “deathby1000papercuts.com” is no longer found.  The  caption quoted Tohme saying: “Neverland is gone. Neverland is finished”

In addition to this New York article we have another author who wrote about the same –  only much earlier, on July 5, 2009.

What is top important here is that the author wrote about that ownership condition after he got familiar with the court documents:

Just who is the mysterious Dr. Tohme Tohme, and what are his ties to Michael Jackson and Neverland?

In the latest interviews Tohme claims he’s just an unpaid adviser and spokesperson for Michael Jackson, but in court records we found a different story, where Tohme claims he’s President of Michael Jackson Productions.

Tohme claimed he set up the original meeting between Barrack, Tohme, and Jackson. One result of the meeting: Barrack wound up saving Neverland from the auction but also gained ownership, with Jackson given some sort of profit sharing agreement. It was Barrack who contacted the owner of AEG, Phillips Anschutz.

http://deathby1000papercuts.com/2009/07/michael-jacksons-death-neverland-the-mysterious-dr-tohme-president-of-michael-jackson-productions/ (unfortunately the link to the article is not working).

What did the condition to pass the ownership from one person to another mean in those circumstances?

It means that the “good guy” was ready to pay the debt for Neverland but only on condition that the property became his. Just imagine an offer like that for your own flat or house and you will realize what kind of a hand-twisting deal it was.

Since this was the essence of Tom Barrack’s deal as he himself described it, it means that when setting the condition for ‘saving’ Neverland he must have given Michael the final price too, and in those circumstances the price could be only minimal – it actually amounted to the sum of the debt.

Another variant is that he could soothe Michael into thinking that the final selling price would be agreed later (by that joint venture of theirs). I don’t even know which variant is worse – imagine that when the time comes for the final agreement you hope to  get the market price, but your partner reminds you that you are nobody here and he is the owner anyway…

So according to Tom Barrack’s own words and the court documents quoted above in May 2008 Colony Capital bought the foreclosure note on condition that Michael started working for AEG and Barrack gained ownership of the ranch. In November the same year they finalized the deal with all media rightfully proclaiming Colony Capital owners of Neverland (now Sycamore Valley).

A deal with AEG was evidently a proposal Michael could not refuse as it was coupled with what he expected to be the saving of Neverland, and as to the ownership condition there are reasons to believe that Michael didn’t know of it and it was not disclosed to him in due manner and in due time.

Why do I think so? Because Richard Siklos, editor-in-chief of Fortune Magazine, who actually saw the agreement, described its terms in a customary manner, without ever mentioning any “ownership” condition to it. However in the court documents mentioned by the second article quoted here the ownership condition is already set. Moreover it is also Tom Barrack himself who also speaks about it.

This makes me think that the news of this condition could be broken on Michael much later or introduced into the deal in some stealthy manner. This does not surprise me in the least as the contract with AEG Live is actually following absolutely the same pattern.  

Indeed, the style of both deals is absolutely the same – Michael Jackson thinks he is going into one deal and in reality it turns out to be something different.

Michael Jackson thinks he is going into a joint venture with Colony Capital, but instead Neverland goes into Tom Barrack’s ownership. He thinks the document he is signing with AEG Live is a letter of intent only, but by some twist it turns out to be the final contract. He also thinks he has agreed to 10 concerts, but the number grows into 50 instead.

There is a pattern here, guys. And what is especially interesting here is that in all these cases we have to do with one and the same middleman – Tohme Tohme.

Michael actually said it himself that he did not know his deal. He said about it to June Gatlin adding that he spoke to Tohme and Tohme spoke to everyone else. He had no chance to verify and check what the deal was, and had to go by Tohme’s word only.  

The same was noted by Jack Wishna who observed Michael and people around him when he was in Las Vegas and said, “Michael did not know what his deals were”. He is surely talking about Tohme here:

“Michael has a lot of people around him that cut deals and sometimes Michael doesn’t even know what those deals are,” he added. “So many people have been around him. At every turn it’s like he’s his worst enemy because of the people that are around him.”

http://uk.eonline.com/news/133691/it-s-going-to-be-a-disaster-associate-says-jackson-was-too-weak-for-major-comeback

As regards Neverland an important amendment arrived at the last minute before making this post. 

Maureen reminded me of  the percentage the Estate now has in the Sycamore Valley Company. And according to the Estate’s report it is 87,5%.

Excerpt from the Estate's 2011 report on the status of Sycamore Valley

Excerpt from the Estate’s 2011 report on the status of Sycamore Valley Ranch Co. LLC

To be frank I completely forgot to look up that document and the Estate’s share sounded as good news to me. However the fact that the share was estimated as “one dollar” still kept me from falling into euphoria over it.

In the Estate’s own terms the situation is described as “the liabilities in this asset exceed assets” and this means that the Estate is in debt over its share in the company. Nobody knows how big the sum of the debt is and what terms of the agreement with Colony Capital over it are. 

All we know is what the court documents and Tom Barrack himself said about it – that the condition for paying the foreclosure note was giving him the ownership of the ranch (in addition to MJ’s deal with AEG) . And the fact that Michael still retained his share in the joint venture can mean a lot of different things – for example, that the deal was reversed when Tohme was fired. The debt could have arisen as a result of that annulment and could have accrued a lot of interest at that. 

This was the first idea that came to my mind to explain the discrepancy, however the reasons for such a situation may be many and unless we see the agreement we can’t be sure of anything.

There is only one thing I am sure of – Tom Barrack didn’t “save” Neverland but acquired great property well below its real cost; and that he forced Michael into a deal with AEG which Michael couldn’t refuse for fear of Neverland going to an auction; and the “ownership” rights might been easily passed to Barrack by some fraud considering Tohme’s modus operandi and Michael never knowing what his deal was.

In short Neverland should be returned to Michael’s family and this is why it is so crucial for Katherine Jackson to win her case against AEG Live. 

Reading about Tom Barrack sitting at the foot of the oak tree where Michael wrote his songs is simply unbearable and is one of the most painful scenes I’ve ever read:

Nov 28, 2010

You’ll see why Michael called this place Neverland,” says Tom Barrack, the newest owner of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Valley Ranch. Barrack is a 63-year-old billionaire with a gleaming shaved head, summer-in-Sardinia tan, personally trained muscles, and sockless tasseled loafers. He is sitting on the lawn beside the Tudor-style, panic-room-equipped main house, near a gnarled oak tree with steps winding up to the perch where Jackson wrote Bad    http://nymag.com/news/business/69782/

I wish it could return to where it was before:

One of Jackson’s favorite outside spots to relax was up in a large oak tree on the grounds. There were handles installed on the tree to help Jackson climb up the tree, where he would sit and contemplate life. He even wrote lyrics and melodies to his songs while relaxing up in the tree.   http://www.examiner.com/article/inside-michael-jackson-s-neverland-ranch-slideshow

OTHER TOHME DEALS

The other business Tohme did for Michael Jackson is best illustrated by the Estate’s lawsuit against Tohme. The full document is found here http://ru.scribd.com/doc/81994850/Michael-Jackson-Tohme-R-Tohme-Suit  

I will comment on the Estate’s side of the story only as what the fraudster says can be read now in numerous articles spread all over the Internet. If you want the details you can go to this source from which the summary of the Estate’s suit against Tohme has also been taken:  http://www.mjjcommunity.com/forum/threads/121500-MJ-Estate-sues-Tohme-Tohme-Tohme-countersues-Tohme-s-complaint-pg-14).  

The summary of the Estate’s suit will have a couple of my additions:

– Tohme arranges a series of negotiations without Michael having independent legal counsel and Michael giving informed consent

– Tohme takes possession of Michael’s money and personal property using his powers of attorney and never returned it to Michael Jackson or the Estate

– Tohme goes unchecked until March 2009 but not later than April 14 when his powers of attorney were terminated

– Tohme gets hired around January 2008 and “gets as he pleased” as the Estate puts it
– Tohme doesn’t have any experience in being a personal manager of an artist

– As personal manager he owed to Michael Jackson the highest duties of care, openness, honesty, loyalty and disclosure. He was required to put Jackson’s interests above his own and disclose all information known to him

– Tohme took control over all of Michael’s personal and professional affairs. He hired and fired and supervised other people that worked for Michael and therefore no one could have objected his actions
– May 2008 Tohme and Michael sign a finder’s agreement for Tohme introducing Michael to Colony Capital.

– Estate says Tohme didn’t tell Michael that he had a pre-existing relationship with Colony Capital
– According to the finder’s fee agreement: Michael was to give Tohme 10% of the loan amount ($2.4M), 10% from the future sale of Neverland and 10% from any future transactions with Colony Capital
– Michael didn’t have an independent lawyer and signed the finder’s fee agreement without fully understanding the deal

– Michael signed the agreement because he trusted Tohme and believed the finder’s fee amount was normal and customary. These amounts were excessive for the services provided – Tohme did nothing else but introduce Jackson to Colony
– Tohme had conflicting roles, working as a finder (motivated by getting a fee) and as Michael’s manager (obliged to vigilantly protect his interests)

To close the matter of the finder’s agreement let me note that the Estate does not say that the second 10% was to be deducted from the future sale of Neverland as the above summary puts it. No, all it says is that Tohme was to receive his 10% twice (!) – from the initial $24,5mln sum paid by Colony Capital (point a) and another 10% from whatever was left to Michael in the sale (point b). 

This can mean that points a) and b) come simultaneously which is perfectly in line with my conclusion that there was no talk about any future sale of Neverland (to some third party). No, all of it was decided then and there, when the foreclosure note was bought and a condition for passing the ownership to Colony was set.

Tohme's terms on selling Neverland

Tohme was to receive his 10% twice – from the foreclosure sum of $24,5mln. and from whatever money Michael got from selling his interest (from the Estate’s lawsuit)

Michael signed the Neverland/Colony Capital agreement without having counsel independent from Tohme and not subject to Tohme’s control and authority.
– The terms of the deal were disproportionally favorable to Colony Capital and inferior to Jackson

– As Tohme had ties and interest in regards to Colony Capital, he didn’t look for better and more favorable financing options for Neverland. The Estate is informed and believes that other alternatives were available to Jackson and he suffered substantial harm as a result.

– July 2008 Tohme gets Michael to sign a “Services agreement”.

– Again MJ Estate says Michael signed because he trusted Tohme, didn’t have an independent counsel and thought it was customary.
– According to this agreement Tohme was to be paid $35,000 + expenses per month even though Michael earned nothing.
– Tohme was also to receive 15% of all gross compensations received by Michael for his services in the entertainment industry including live performances, merchandising, electronic arts, recorded and live telecasts, motion pictures, animation projects.

The above point has a direct bearing on the deal with AEG Live. If Michael, for example, was to receive a million for an AEG concert, Tohme set for himself $150,000 out of Michael’s earnings. This, as the Estate says, by far exceeds normal and customary terms for personal managers of artists.

In my opinion this fee, set by Tohme on top of everything else, is a complete outrage. I wonder very much indeed how Tohme managed to obtain Michael’s signature under these terms. What did he do to him to make him sign?

– August 2008 Tohme gets Michael to sign two Power of Attorney (POA) which gave extraordinary powers to Tohme that are “wildly beyond what was customary” as the Estate puts it
– Also Tohme gets Michael to sign an Indemnity Agreement which was again too broad.
– Again the same claims of Michael didn’t have an independent counsel, trusted Tohme, signed them without fully understanding them.
– Tohme made substantial gifts of Michael’s property without having a right to do so. In November 2008 he gifted Michael’s art to Brett Livingstone-strong and signed off Michael’s copyrights in those drawings. The POA’s don’t give Tohme the power to gift anything and transfer Michael’s copyrights to a third party.

-Tohme negotiated TII concert deal with AEG
– Tohme was supposed to get $100,000 a month as a producer fee from TII concerts. AEG would have pay this amount but then would get it back from Michael as part of production expenses
– Again the same claims about Michael signing this agreement.

It seems that the Estate chose to regard the agreement with AEG as valid. They are lawyers of course and know better, but a general observation I need to make here is that we are facing a choice here – if we consider the agreement fraudulent and void, this will nullify everything including the money Michael Jackson was entitled to. However if we regard the agreement as valid its terms including AEG’s financial obligations to Michael will remain. 

– Using his powers Tohme took possession of substantial amounts of money (in the millions) and tangible personal and other property of Michael
– Tohme commingled Michael’s funds with his own and used Michael’s money for his expenses, travel, entertainment and purchase of  property for himself
– Tohme refused to provide accounting for Michael’s money and property he handled
– The Estate says they believe Tohme is in possession of property belonging to Michael (and the Estate) and took, concealed and disposed of some of it. In accordance with the law Tohme is to pay twice the value of such property

– Estate says Tohme was fired March 2009 and Michael revoked his POA’s in April 2009 but didn’t return Michael’s property
– After Michael’s death Tohme requested significant funds from MJ Estate but refused to return the property in his possession to MJ Estate.
– Tohme didn’t return books and records over the property he handled and refuses to do so.

It seems that Tohme was giving away Michael’s property to the left and to the right. Besides misappropriating some of it for himself he also gave away the collection of Michael Jackson’s own art to artist Brett Livingston Strong which according to some estimation costs now no less than $900mln. Tohme made a gift of it to Livingston and Livingston was about to resell it to an unknown international investor for $87,7mln. 

Michael's artwork. A door

Michael’s artwork. A door

The Estate is battling to reverse the deal on the grounds that Tohme had no right to make a gift of Michael’s artwork to anyone. Especially if it costs almost a billion now.

Michael Jackson’s lawyers battling to save his $900 million secret art collection

7 Jul 2011 // by: Music-News.com Newsdesk 

Michael Jackson’s lawyers are battling to save his $900 million secret art collection.

The late ‘Thriller’ star’s ‘rare intact major collection’ has just been discovered, but rather than securing the financial future of his three children – Prince, 13, Paris, 12, and Blanket, eight – lawyers for the star are battling to reverse its $87.7 million sale to an undisclosed international businessman.

Appraiser Eric Finzi told Star magazine the 182-piece collection, which has never publicly been seen, has ‘an invaluable pedigree for future sales in the international art market’.

Michael's artwork. The portrait of George Washington

Michael’s artwork. The portrait of George Washington

He added: “Michael’s mystique in life combined with this exposure of his wonderful fine art creations following his tragic death will escalate the value of these works and the popularity of his artistic vision worldwide. I do not think we have begun to see the true value of this fine art yet.”

The collection is made up of drawings, sketches and sculptures made by the ‘Beat It’ singer over a number of years while being taught by an Australian artist and friend, Brett Livingston Strong.

Among the artworks are sketches of Martin Luther King, President Abraham Lincoln and President George Washington, said to be worth in all, more than $8.1 million, sketches of Jackson’s own feet doing his signature dance move the Moonwalk and recreations of the Statue of David and Dying Slave, the masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo.

Before Michael died in August 2009 his estate was in financial trouble, yet a letter sent to Brett by Dr. Tohme Tohme – Jackson’s last business manager and spokesperson – paved the way for the sale, transferring over the collection of artwork free of charge “to keep, sell, copy, exhibit and to use in whatever way you wish’.

Michael's artwork. The Neverland gate

Michael’s artwork. The Neverland gate

Brett and his advisors are thought to have orchestrated the deal to sell off the artwork recently.

Lawyers are now questioning the validity of the letter and trying to reverse the sale.

The letter transferring the works to Brett reads: “Michael wants you to know he is truly grateful for the loyalty you have shown him over the years, and he views this as a small token of appreciation for your continued friendship and artistic partnership.” http://www.music-news.com/shownews.asp?nItemID=42472

Michael's artwork. Childhood

Michael’s artwork. Childhood

Isn’t it strange that though Michael’s finances were supposed to be in much trouble Tohme took it upon himself to give away free Michael’s precious possessions – and with no visible authorization from Michael too, except the letter Tohme himself wrote to accompany the gift?

The angar with Michael Jackson's artwork presented to Brett Livinston Strong

Michael Jackson’s artwork was presented by Tohme to Brett Livinston Strong http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/62053632.html

The Estate is right – no matter what extraordinary powers someone gets under a power of attorney, it absolutely does not allow him to present to others the property he doesn’t own. Otherwise whenever you make such a power of attorney you risk to lose even the chair you are sitting on now. Law sets certain limits to avoid things like that. 

THEY MADE HIM LOOK BROKE

While Tohme was squandering Michael’s artwork Tom Barrack was explaining to Michael that his financial situation was that of “a funeral”, this way making him more susceptible and agreeable to their plans.

AEG Live and the press were also notified of the catastrophic state of Michael’s affairs. Randy Phillips had no direct access to Michael’s papers while Tom Barrack did – before paying the foreclosure note he communicated with Fortress holding Michael’s loan and got his team to “crunch the numbers”. The people who looked into Michael’s finances were evidently the same accountants whom Michael hired in the spring of 2008 after they were introduced into the picture by Tom Barrack. These were also the people whom Michael dismissed a year later together with Tohme.

There is absolutely no way for us to know whether the numbers they left to Michael after they were fired were not aggravated by them while they were still at it. The Estate for example is of the opinion that Tohme had misappropriated some of Michael’s property and up till now did not receive any records from him.

The article written in November 2010 explains that Tom Barrack described to Michael his finances in so sombre a way that poor Michael had to struggle with it for three days before he finally agreed to go to work for AEG:

“Barrack had a relationship with the loan holder, Fortress, and was able to get an extension to give his Colony team time to crunch the numbers. They concluded that the only way to make a deal work would be for Jackson to start generating new revenue, which meant performing old material.

Two days later, Barrack called Jackson. “I told him: ‘Where you are is an insolvable puzzle unless you’re willing to go back to work. If you’re willing to do that, then we can help, but if you’re not willing to do that, it’s just presiding over a funeral.’ ”

At first, Jackson demurred. “He really had a hard time with that, and he struggled for about three days. Finally, he calls back and says, ‘You’re right, I’ll do it.’http://nymag.com/news/business/69782/index2.html

Even from the articles available to us we see that Barrack indeed tried to paint Michael’s circumstances in the darkest colors possible. Thus he implied to the press that Michael’s living conditions were dismal and from the way he described it one might think that Michael had to live in a dingy hole: 

 “The world’s bestselling male pop artist was hunkered down with his three children in a dumpy housing compound in an older section of town. At 49, he was awash in nearly $400 million of debt and so frail that he greeted visitors in a wheelchair. The rich international friends who offered him refuge after his 2005 acquittal on molestation charges had fallen away. His Santa Barbara ranch, Neverland, was about to be sold at public auction. http://articles.latimes.com/2009/may/31/entertainment/et-michael-jackson31

Another article alleged that Barrack grudgingly agreed to meet Jackson as he resented the idea of spending half an hour with him in some “weird” house of his:

Jackson was facing a crisis, Tohme said. The holder of $270 million in loans to Jackson was foreclosing on Neverland and planned to sell it in five days. Would Barrack meet with Jackson? “It’s so not Tom’s thing,” Lowe says. “Getting roped into spending half an hour with Michael Jackson in some weird house is just not on his agenda.”

Somewhat grudgingly, Barrack arrived at Jackson’s fifties stucco rental on Palomino Lane. “Not one blade of grass,” Barrack says. “The house was old and musty.”

http://nymag.com/news/business/69782/index2.html

In this house Michael Jackson lived from end of December 2006 to beginning of 2008

In this house Michael Jackson lived from end of December 2006 to beginning of 2008

After all these descriptions we were naturally curious to see how those houses looked. On the left you will see the house rented for Michael by Jack Wishna (recently it was sold for $3,1 mln.). In this house Michael lived from December 2006 when he arrived from Ireland until early 2008, when he moved into a more modest Mexican-style hacienda.

In Hacienda Palomino Michael spent the remaining months of 2008 before he moved to Los Angeles sometime in August 2008. The owners of the Hacienda arranged a tour of their house on the second anniversary of Michael’s death and this is how we got some pictures of it.

Hacienda Palomino

Hacienda Palomino

The house is not as grand as the first one, but is still hardly reminiscent of the hole Tom Barrack was trying to portray. I was especially amused by Barrack’s statement that there was “not a blade of grass” there. True, there was hardly any grass there as it was a garden full of cactuses and palms and there are tiles and stones all around the house because it is the style of that property, you know.

The owners of Hacienda Palomino opened up their house on the 2nd anniversary of Michael's death

The owners of Hacienda Palomino opened up their house on the 2nd anniversary of Michael’s death

The media will naturally say that Michael was living an opulent style which he could not afford. This may be partially true as Michael himself did not know the state of his finances. But the point I am trying to make is that Tom Barrack did try to portray Michael’s affairs in the light worse than it really was. I myself had so terrible an impression of the living conditions in which Michael allegedly lived that didn’t even want to have a look until I was forced to do so after some discussion in the comments.

Hacienda 2Michael’s situation was far from good, that’s true. But even the success of the Estate after his death shows that with proper management it could have been corrected. Even the Cirque du Soleil project offered by Jack Wishna could have worked wonders for Michael at the time, not to mention the fact that in the very worst case even the catalog could be discarded if it had to be done to sanitize the situation. In short some opportunities were still open to Michael and in their suit against Tohme the Estate also speaks about it. 

The rooms of Hacienda remind me of Neverland

The rooms of Hacienda remind me of Neverland

Actually the fact that Michael’s situation was painted worse than it really was, was confirmed by Randy Phillips himself.

 On the one hand he dutifully repeated what Tohme told him and used it to get Michael on the hook:

Randy Phillips, AEG chief executive, said: “I got a call from Dr. Tohme, who said Michael was in bad financial straits”
http://www.chocolatecity.cc/2009/07/25/why-was-dr-tohme-secretly-keeping-michael-jackson-millions/

“Not a blade of grass”, said Tom Barrack. Indeed, not a blade of grass…

But on the other hand he also said something different. To the Daily Telegraph for example he said that Michael’s finances were actually not that dire – “they were making out his finances much more dire than they really were”. It was cash that he needed most.

What made Randy Phillips so outspoken to the press I don’t know – probably the shrill of seeing Michael selling a million tickets within some seconds. The article is dated exactly that period: 

14 Mar 2009

“We finally made Mohammed come to the mountain of the O2,” Phillips grins. Jackson refused twice, but several months ago, the idea arose as the superstar was putting together a restructuring plan for his finances. Not hat we should believe rumours that Jackson is struggling, after spending a fortune on security and lawyers after his famous child abuse trial – which ended with his acquittal.

“They make out Michael’s finances are much more dire than they are,” Phillips assures me. But he needed the cash, right? “I asked him straight off: why say yes to the tour now? Was it the money? He said: you know what, my kids are old enough now.” Jackson agreed to do 10 dates for AEG, before relenting to 40 more. The star “worships” London, but plans to stay in a country house where his children can play. If any Daily Telegraph readers have a plush rural pad for rent, Phillips wants to know.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/4987420/Randy-Phillips-profile-Michael-Jacksons-promoter-is-making-all-the-right-moves.html

So this is what Randy Phillips thought of Michael’s situation:

·        “They make out Michael’s finances are much more dire than they are”. 

THE EMAILS

The above is indeed a precious observation on the part of Randy Phillips especially if you compare it with some emails the AEG people exchanged between themselves on the matter of Michael’s finances. The emails said: 

Pressed by another promoter about Jackson’s ability to deliver, Phillips shot back in an email, “He has to or financial disaster awaits.”

“We are holding all the risk,” Gongaware wrote to Phillips. “We let Mikey know just what this will cost him in terms of him making money…

“He is locked. He has no choice … he signed a contract,” Gongaware wrote.

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/02/local/la-me-aeg-jackson-20120902

But look here. Irrespective of the real condition of Michael’s finances, the two different statements by Randy Phillips about “the imminent financial disaster” and the situation being not that dire mean that he was expressing two opposite ideas. How can that be? Does it mean that he was lying at least on one of these occasions?  

My opinion is that both times Randy Phillips was telling the truth, only he was talking about two different situations. The first time he was talking about Michael’s finances in general, and in their emails he and other AEG officials talked of the situation they themselves created for Michael.

Indeed, the terms of their contract were so unfavorable to Michael that after signing their papers he became sort of their hostage. Now he could be really threatened by an imminent disaster in case he tried to back out of the deal and be easily blackmailed into any decision they wanted him to take. I myself was telling you in numerous posts about their contract that in case there was a cancellation Michael would have been stripped naked by his AEG partners.

There is one more point we need to make as regards those emails and all those “risks” AEG allegedly faced as well as their worries about Michael non-performing. 

First, there were no risks for AEG as the money they invested in Michael was secured by all his possessions according to the Promissory Note he signed, so all the risk was on Michael’s side only.

And second, there was no need to worry about Michael not keeping his word. There was no way he would go back on it and draw out of his agreement with AEG Live. He had a much bigger incentive for performing than any of these people could ever imagine – he wanted to do those ten concerts for his children and knowing how much he valued everything connected with them we will understand that with the children being his main driving force no power on earth could stop him from performing – except death of course.

WHY HE WANTED THOSE CONCERTS

Randy Phillips always stressed that the strongest motive for Michael to agree to the London tour was his desire to show his art to his children. This statement was repeated so often and by so many people besides Phillips that I beging thinking that this was indeed Michael’s main driving force. Money was always of secondary importance to him while the children were his utmost value, and the first and only priority in life.

Almost every person who came into contact with Michael said that he wanted those concerts primarily for his children (in addition to his fans):

Those who know Jackson say his real motivation is to show his children what he is capable of.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1170856/As-concern-grows-voice-health-mental-state-ask-Has-Jacko-40m-date-disaster.html

“He’s doing it mostly for his fans,” Jackson’s former spokesman Dr. Tohme Tohme tells RS. “And he’s doing it for his children and the children of the world.”

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/inside-michael-jacksons-troubled-london-comeback-20090625

Phillips had his eye on Jackson for some time. In 2007, Phillips had approached the singer with a deal for a comeback, but Jackson, who was working with different advisors, turned him down. “He wasn’t ready,” Phillips recalled.

This time, however, Jackson was receptive. He needed the money, and he has a second, more personal reason: His children — sons Prince Michael, 7, and Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., 12, and daughter Paris Michael Katherine, 11 — have never seen him perform live.

“They are old enough to appreciate and understand what I do, and I am still young enough to do it,” Phillips quoted Jackson as saying.

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/may/31/entertainment/et-michael-jackson31/2

Even our old friend Stacy Brown is saying the same:

Michael had reportedly planned for 12-year-old Prince Michael to sing and dance with him, his friend and biographer Stacy Brown has claimed.

According to the writer, the 50-year-old singer “didn’t really want to do any of the shows” but was spurred on by his three children, Prince Michael, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old Prince Michael II.

He added: “Michael really wanted his children to see him perform.”

Besides Stacy Brown the article also cites Michael’s photographer who said that Michael was so focused on the shows and so hopeful for his family and fans to see them that he reminded him of an “expectant father pacing up and down the stage”:

Kevin Mazur, a photographer who was taking pictures of Michael rehearsing and spoke to the singer during his practice sessions [ ] said the singer was shouting: “This is me. The true me. I feel so alive. I feel as though I want to perform forever.

“The only thing missing is my fans, my people, my family – and they will come. I know they will. I’m so happy. Can you feel it? Can you feel it?” Kevin added: “It was incredible. It was a joy to behold. You could tell Michael was so excited.

“He was like an expectant father pacing up and down the stage. He was just so focused. I have never seen him so happy.”

http://www.tourdates.co.uk/news/14072-jackson-5-to-stage-tribute-show

But most of it is coming from Kenny Ortega. He says that Michael’s children knew of his performances but were curious to see them live. Michael wanted to show to his children what he had been doing all his life and share this experience with them. He wanted the children to meet his fans and turn the concerts into the final grand bow:

“For the last couple of years, we had been talking about finding the right project. That it had to have meaning, real purpose behind it for him to want to do something. And when he called me, he said, ‘This is it.’ That’s where the title came from,” he says. “He wanted this so much for so many reasons. For his children, who are now old enough and really, you know, curious [about his performances]”

http://www.oprah.com/entertainment/Michael-Jacksons-This-Is-It/3

“Michael was intending to go out there with his children and see the whole rest of the world, share that experience with them, meet the fans, take one more grand bow, and then he wanted to pull the plug on his live performing because he said, ‘I don’t want to be out there doing it when I can’t do it with the integrity that I’m known for. However, let’s make movies and great albums and develop projects together.’ So he was excited about so much. He had so much more in him still.” http://movies.about.com/od/michaeljacksonthisisit/a/kenny-ortega_2.htm

Kenny Ortega also paints a much bigger picture of Michael’s motives for those concerts which ranged from involving his children in life creatively to turning his shows a “call to arms” as Michael was going to say to the world, “Come on world, take responsibility”:

As the director explained, for MJ, those powerful reasons numbered three: his family, his fans and his hope for — and yes, his love of — the future of humanity. “He wanted to do it because he wanted to involve his children in his life creatively,” he said. “He wanted them to be able to experience what it was, that he loved his whole life, now that they were curious, old enough to be able to appreciate it, and he was still young enough to do it.”

Additionally, Jackson wanted to reward his loyal fanbase with a live show — not just featuring the King of Pop, but one he wanted to be bigger and badder than any other before it. “The fans meant everything to Michael,” Ortega told us. “They were his food, his fuel, his life source, his energy, and he was energized by them and he appreciated their loyalty more than I can ever say. This film is for the fans.”

But in the end, love was really the driving force behind the concerts. “Most importantly, Michael wanted to do this because he wanted this to be a call to arms,” Ortega said. “This is it. Come on world, take responsibility. We need to love each other more, put more love back into the world. We need to take care of the planet or we’re not going to have one for future generations.”

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1624516/michael-jacksons-this-it-director-explains-reasons-comeback-shows.jhtml

Money is not even mentioned by any of these people. And Michael himself never mentioned money in connection with those concerts either. He was recorded by Murray when falling asleep and in moments like that people betray their innermost desires, and I never cease to be amazed that at a moment like that Michael spoke of spending money instead of acquiring it. And that he dreamed of spending it not on his own needs, but on a children’s hospital built for the little angels he cared for. And instead of money he spoke of God:

Jackson:  Elvis didn’t do it.  Beatles didn’t do it.  We have to be phenomenal.  When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I am them to say, “I’ve never seen nothing like this in my life.  Go. Go.  I’ve never seen nothing like this.  Go. It’s amazing.  He’s the greatest entertainer in the world.”  I’m taking that money, a million children, children’s hospital, the biggest in the world, Michael Jackson’s Children’s Hospital.  Gonna have a movie theater, game room. Children are depressed. The –in those hospitals, no game room, no movie theater. They’re sick because they’re depressed.  Their mind is depressing them.  I want to give them that.  I care about them, them angels.  God wants me to do it.  God wants me to do it.  I’m gonna do it, Conrad.

Murray:  I know you would.

Jackson: Don’t have enough hope, no more hope.  That’s the next generation that’s gonna save out planet, starting with-we’ll talk about it.  United States, Europe, Prague, my babies.  They walk around with no mother.  They drop them off, they leave- a psychological degradation of that.  They reach out to me- please take me with you.

Murray: Mmmnh-mmnh

Jackson: I’m gonna do that for them.  That will be remembered more than my performances.  My performances will be up there helping my children and always be my dream.  I love them.  I love them, because I didn’t have a childhood.  I had no childhood.  I feel their pain. I feel their hurt.  I can deal with it.  “Heal the World,” “We are the World,” “Will You be There,” “The Lost Children.”  These are the songs I’ve written because I hurt, you know, I hurt.

Murray: You okay?

Jackson: I am asleep.

You will probably agree with me that with a driving force like Michael’s children he would have done any number of concerts there were to do. The only condition required for it was the right schedule and enough time for rest and sleep between the concerts. As to the rest of it Michael was so highly motivated for those shows that he would have never cancelled them at a mere whim. He rarely did it before without a proper rescheduling and he was absolutely not going to do it now.

This makes all those ‘worries’ about the concerts expressed by the AEG people totally unjustified. If Michael did not attend some rehearsals it was most probably because he either practiced at home or needed to save his energy. He also expected his partners to do their part of the deal – their business was to make the show ready and his business was to put the final touch to it.

In this connection Randy Phillips often recalled Michael saying,

  • “You build the house and I come, put in the front door and paint it”.

THE SHOWS WERE NOT READY

However by June 25th when Michael Jackson died the shows were far from ready. I hope there will be a time to talk about this fact in more detail and at the moment I will only quote Kenny Ortega who in his conversation with Oprah Winfrey suddenly blurted out that truth. And the truth is that on June 25th “they were about three weeks from being ready”:

Now, the director and choreographer is releasing his most heartbreaking—and inspiring—project yet in honor of Michael Jackson, his friend of 25 years. Michael Jackson’s This Is It is an unguarded look at the King of Pop’s final days as he prepared for a series of comeback concerts in London. “We were about eight days away from leaving to London to do our final technical and dress rehearsals,” Kenny says. “We were about three weeks from being ready.”

http://www.oprah.com/entertainment/Michael-Jacksons-This-Is-It

Three weeks is 21 days as everyone knows, but if you add 5 or 6 days remaining in June and 12 days in July (the 13th was Sunday and the day of the premiere) it will make 17-18 days only. If you further deduct from this number the days off and the time needed for moving the show to London you will be amazed at how little time they actually had. 

Michael Jackson was supposed to leave for London on July 4th, and on the 8th he was to have his first London rehearsal, and this left to him and the others only 9 working days excluding Saturdays and Sunday. If you add Saturdays to it this will be all they had for finishing up the show.

Please note that Michael needed a comfortable schedule for himself which could allow him to reach the shows in his peak form, save his energy and voice, and would not exhaust him before the tour started at all – however the too little time left was not giving him any chance to relax.

Whether AEG was pressuring him on purpose or due to their planning mistakes does not really matter. Even if the pressure was a forced measure it means that their production process was poorly arranged and all the mistakes made by them had to be compensated at the expense of Michael Jackson and the tremendous burden of overwork placed on his shoulders.

Answering AEG's interrogatory Paris Jackson said her father told her that he was overworked and the schedule was

Answering AEG’s interrogatory Paris Jackson said her father told her that he was overworked and the schedule was “too much”

An anonymous witness to those events shared his view of the show on the eve of their move to London and said that nothing was actually ready for it.

We don’t doubt the veracity of his words as this is one of those rare cases when no confirmation is even needed. We have seen “This is it” documentary with our own eyes and it illustrated everything this person said – the costumes were indeed not ready and when they were finally made and decorated with thousands of Swarovsky crystals they were good for a museum only as Michael would have been unable to dance under their weight anyway.

The 3-D video was not yet made, the robot equipment was not ready and even in the final documentary some scenes were done by computer simulation only.  In short what this witness to the events said is perfectly coinciding with our own impression of it.

This is what the eye-witness said:

“According to this person, there was absolutely no way the concert was going to be ready for opening night on July 13th, and everyone knew it.

He asked me the following “when you saw the movie, you do realize right that they had to show the best scenes, the best performances, right?” I said “yes, of course” to which he replied “so do you realize that what you have seen, most of it came from June 24th, 23rd and 22nd ? Based on what you saw, did it feel as if everything was going to be ready in 2 weeks ?” He said that Michael did not have his clothes ready, and that there was “pathetic” @#$%$ing around from different stylists that were trying to come up with ideas. But nothing was ready, no clothes, not even for the dancers. Michael wanted Michael Bush, but Travis Payne brought in that Zaldy guy, and AEG was behind Zaldy, rather than Michael Bush.

The opening number for the concert was only done on the computer, just like we saw in the movie. It was never rehearsed, and the robot that Michael would have come out from was not ever ready. Also the closing of the show was just a concept.

He also confirmed that they never had a full rehearsal. In other words, they never practiced the whole concert, it would always be a few songs on several days, but it was never put all together, therefore they were also very concerned that once everything was gonna put together, it would take much longer that the 2 hours originally planned. This was going to be a huge problem for AEG and the O2 arena, because of an agreement they had with time. Also, Michael did not want to have long shows, for obvious reasons.

Also, they never rehearsed with implementing the videos for Smooth, Thriller and Earth as we saw in the movie, those were edited in the movie, but they never rehearsed using them, and it was still unclear how they would be used with the songs, especially Smooth Criminal.”

And this was the state of affairs at the very end of June, some two working weeks before the shows? They still needed time for taking the show across the ocean, setting up the equipment there, finishing up the costumes and rehearing some previously unrehearsed songs, running the full show from beginning to end and arranging at least one dress rehearsal prior to the premiere – and for all this they had some 9-12 working days?

And if all this leaves us with a terribly disquieting feeling, how much more worried and apprehensive must have been Michael Jackson seeing all that? No wonder that he was nervous and even said to his fans as Talitha remembers:

MJ: I put everything I have into the shows. I work so hard. But I’m only one person. There is only so much I can do. (sounding emotional)

http://www.michaeljacksonthelastangel.com/michael-jackson-this-is-it.html

Michael was urging his partners, “Build the house and I’ll come and paint the front door”. He was asking them to do what was expected of them so that he could make his own input and “paint the front door”. However the house was far from ready and that’s the main point of it.

IRRELEVANT QUESTIONS

When trying to use some old articles stored on my computer in connection with this story I encountered a worrisome phenomenon.

First of all many of the articles listing Tohme’s feats against Jackson have suddenly disappeared. The Forbes and the deathby1000papercuts articles are no longer there and many others are also missing. Practically everything that can give us some information about the details of Tohme’s business with Michael is missing now.

Secondly, a big number of glowing reports about Dr. Tohme appeared instead. Over there he is painted a kind of a savior of Michael Jackson and his work for him is praised in a totally flagrant manner. 

And thirdly, when I once again watched Randy Phillips’ testimony at Conrad Murray’s trial it struck me very much how unnaturaly Prosecutor Walgren and the Judge avoided almost all questions concerning Tohme.

Chernoff asked questions whether Phillips knew Tohme, had met him before or recognized him. But not a single of these questions was allowed by Walgren and the judge. The vehemence of their objection to these seemingly innocent questions was simply overwhelming and made me think that Phillips and Tohme could know each other before and this for some reason must have a certain importance for the case.

Actually there were some rumors on the Internet saying that Tohme and Phillips were relatives and that Tohme used to be married to Phillips’s sister. (Note: Later I was told that this was not the case). 

However even if this was not true these two people still had a perfect understanding for each other. It was Phillips and Tohme who set 50 shows for Michael. And the minimal spacing between the shows was also their doing  – Phillips himself said that he was working on the dates together with Tohme. And consequently it was the two of them who were responsible for the crazy schedule with hardly any days off between the shows set by them for the 50 year old Jackson.

Celebrity Access said about it:

AEG’s Randy Phillips told CelebrityAccesss that they have been working with Dr. Tohme Tohme in connection with all of Michael Jackson’s dates.

http://encore.celebrityaccess.com/index.php?encoreId=184&articleId=30345

Tohme and Phillips are together approaching the hospital to which Michael Jackson had been taken

Tohme and Phillips are together approaching the hospital to which Michael Jackson had been taken

Here is the way Chernoff examined Randy Phillips on day 17 of the trial, September 25, 2011 and how he was rebuffed at the first attempt to find whether Randy Phillips knew Tohme before.

Almost all questions concerning Colony Capital were blocked too. See Phillips’ cross-examination beginning with 6:30:

Chernoff: Is Colony Capital an entertainment company?

Phillips: Not to my knowledge.

C: And entertainment agency?

P: No.

C: What kind of a company is it?

P: My knowledge of it is that it is that they are like a private equity fund.

C: And the owner, the principal of that company is Tom Barrack?

P: Right. I think there are numerous partners.

C: Who did Tom Barrack contact with? You directly?

P: No, he actually contacted Phil Anschutz.

C: Who is Phil Anschutz?

P: He is the chairman of AEG and is someone I report to.

C: He is the Anschutz Entertainment Group?

P: Yes, he is.

C: And Tom Barrack knew Phil Anschutz to your knowledge?

P: I believe so.

C: And you were contacted by Phil Anschutz?

P: Correct.

C: Were you familiar with the involvement Tom Barrack had with Michael Jackson?

Walgren: Objection. Relevance.

Judge: Sustained.

C: When Phil Anschutz called you what instructions did he give you?

Walgren: Objection. Relevance.

Judge: I will sustain the objection. I think we can go to the next step. Thank you.

C: After the conversation, after the boss called you, what did you do?

P: I set up an appointment for me to go and meet with Mr. Barrack  and his partner Richard Nannula at Colony Capital. [the spelling of the name is the way I hear it]

C: And this was where?

P: At Century City. Century City, California, Los Angeles.

C: You made up a phone call and set up a meeting.

P: That’s correct.

C: How soon did you meet with Tom Barrack and his partners?

P: I believe it was the next day or the day after next to the best of my recollection.

C: All right. And then what happened?

P: […]  and I had a meeting with them. Tom Barrack [..] I think it was Richard Nannula who is the partner at Colony Capital who pretty much led the meeting and who explained to me that Colony Capital had purchased the note on Neverland, Michael’s ranch in the Santa Barbara County and purchased the note on his ranch from the company called Fortress.

C: All right. And what does it have to do with the concerts?

Walgren: Objection. Relevance.

Judge: Sustained.

C: Was there a conversation about a concert during this meeting? Or concert tour? A series?

P: When Richard Nannula…

Judge: Will you just answer this specific question?

P: Yes.

C: Who had that conversation?

P: Me, Richard Nannula and Tom Barrack. 

C: After this discussion of the concert what did you do next?

P: They set up a meeting for me with a gentleman named Dr. Tohme who was presented to me as Michael Jackson’s manager at that time.

C: Dr. Tohme?

P: Correct.

C: And the meeting was already set up?

P: It was set up during that meeting at Colony.

C: And where was this meeting held?

P: At the Bel Air Hotel.

C: And when was this meeting held?

P: I am not sure. I would be the same day or the next day.. I believe it was the same week that I met the Colony Capital.

C: You did say you had a meeting at Colony Capital in August 2008?

P: Right.

C: That would be August you had this meeting?

P: That is correct.

C: And it was at the Bel Air Hotel?

P: Yes.

C: The next day you went to the Bel Air Hotel to meet with Dr. Tohme? Had you ever met Dr. Tohme?

Walgren: Objection. Relevance.

Judge: Sustained.

C: Did you know Dr. Tohme?

Walgren: Objection. Relevance.

Judge: Sustained. Let’s get to the next step. Thank you.

C: Did you recognize Dr. Tohme?

Walgren: Objection. Relevance.

Judge: Just a moment. The objection is sustained. There was a meeting. The next question.

C: Can you tell us where in the Bel Air Hotel the meeting was?

Walgren: Objection. Relevance.

Judge: Sustained.

C: We can agree that somewhere within the confines of the Bel Air Hotel you met with Dr. Tohme, right?

P: Just to clarify your question. I am not sure it was the next day.

C: But you did meet with Dr. Tohme?

P: That is correct.

C: Who else was at the meeting?

P. Just Dr. Tohme.

C: And what was the discussion about?

P. That Michael Jackson ..

Walgren: Objection. Does it have to do with the proposed concert tour?

Judge: Does it have to do with the proposed concert tour?

P: Yes. .. that Michael Jackson wanted to restart his career… 

All I can say on the above is that if the civil trial against AEG Live goes along the same lines, I am afraid we cannot expect much justice for Michael Jackson and his family. The questions relevant for the family (and Michael’s supporters) may be considered irrelevant by them while they are perfectly relevant for us and for the truth too.

Well, we’ll see how justice works when there are so many billionaires around and when some of the key players are tied to each other by common secrets cementing their relationship. 

JUSTICE FOR MICHAEL

Some time ago the Internet had an article with an interesting title “Can Michael Jackson get justice in a town owned by AEG?” However following the already mentioned tendency of disappearance of some articles this one also disappeared and is no longer available though I clearly remember reading it and even in several sources too.  

Instead a new article appeared – it is called “AEG’s chief is a force in L.A” and is about Tim Leiweke, the President and CEO of AEG. Its three pages are fully dedicated to all the good AEG is doing for the city but a couple of paragraphs insert a drop of criticism and try to show how unbiased the paper is towards this huge LA force:

Tim Leiweke of Anschutz Entertainment Group stands atop the new 52-story Ritz-Carlton tower at L.A. Live. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Those who praise him see Leiweke as an exemplar of what Los Angeles has long lacked — a smart, savvy player who can link arms with financial backers, politicians and unionized workers with equal gusto. In an era when the city can do little development on its own, he and AEG have helped fill a major civic void, doing what many would consider city-building on mostly private land.

…To critics, however, Leiweke is a classic example of an influence peddler who curries favor with lawmakers through huge financial donations and gets, in turn, handouts in the form of tax breaks and a rubber stamp on his vision. The company received approximately $246 million in tax breaks on the L.A. Live project alone — plus a grant of $5 million from redevelopment funds.

“There is a feeling that things are out of balance in the attention the city is paying to that area, to downtown in general and in particular to that area around Staples [Center] and L.A. Live,” said Dennis Hathaway, of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, which has tangled repeatedly with AEG. “And there’s a perception that AEG has kind of become the tail that is wagging the dog of the city.”

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/feb/07/local/la-me-leiweke7-2010feb07

With a force like it is hard to expect anything good for Katherine Jackson and her lawsuit, especially since the crucial points have already been thrown away and are not going to be discussed. Therefore we are most probably in for a new barrage of “irrelevant” questions asked and never answered. And in the place of the Jacksons’ lawyers I wouldn’t be that confident of the result of the case no matter how solid it looks to them.

Well, we’ll see how the justice works. The world will be watching.

35 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2013 2:17 pm

    Guys, here is some news about Neverland which I got from FB and my mail.

    Here is the first news:

    MICHAEL JACKSON’S FAMILY WANT TO BUY BACK NEVERLAND RANCH

    Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine has been given permission to reopen Nerverland this summer She misses her father terribly and says the happiest time of her life was when she and her brothers lived with their father at the ranch. [A source close to the Jacksons]

    5th May 2013 By Mike Parker
    MICHAEL JACKSON’s family want to buy back Neverland Ranch, the 3,000-acre estate where he lived for 20 years and raised his three children.

    Jacko’s executors took the £19million property off the market despite bids from several potential buyers, ­including celeb couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

    But family members, led by Jackson’s mother Katherine, say they intend to purchase it outright if they win their current civil court case at Los Angeles Superior Court against entertainment giant AEG.

    Katherine, who turned 83 yesterday, and Jackson’s children Prince, 16, Paris, 15, and Blanket, 11, have already been given ­permission to reopen Neverland this ­summer.

    They intend to spend a week in one wing of the now-dilapidated main house, a private tribute to mark the fourth anniversary of the Thriller singer’s death aged 50 in June 2009.

    A source close to the Jacksons said: “It was Paris who persuaded her grandmother and brothers that Neverland should never be sold and should always remain in family hands.

    “She misses her father terribly and says the happiest time of her life was when she and her brothers lived with their father at the ranch.

    “Katherine has agreed they should fight to keep it.”

    The family would have to buy back the 15% of the estate owned by a company that refinanced it to stop Jacko being evicted.
    http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/view/312858/Michael-Jackson-s-family-want-to-buy-back-Neverland-Ranch/

    I do hope that it is only 15% and that this percentage is not astronomical in terms of money. It seems to me that Tom Barrack and Tohme did not manage to do what they intended to in respect of Neverland.

    If the family had the ranch back it would be the right time too, because see how it is being used now:

    SWAT team in siege at Jacko home
    Cops’ Neverland drills

    By PETE SAMSON, US Editor
    Published: 04th May 2013

    MICHAEL Jackson’s abandoned Neverland home is under siege from police again — as a SWAT training centre.
    A unit of highly specialised weapons officers is using the sprawling 3,000-acre site to practice combat drills.

    The main house Jacko lived in and its subsidiary buildings, overgrown grasslands and hilly terrain all make Neverland a perfect location.
    The cops use the ranch in Santa Barbara, California, to rehearse tackling life or death scenarios involving assassins, terrorists, hostage-takers and armed robbers.

    Their unit, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team, has to be ready to face such situations for real.
    Retired sheriff Jim Thomas, a leading investigator when Jacko was first accused of abusing Jordy Chandler at Neverland in 1993, said: “The team don’t just need to work in urban areas near houses.

    “They need wide open rural areas too where they might have to handle someone in a ranch outbuilding.”

    Police raided Neverland several times when Jackson lived there, including in 2003 when he was accused of abusing Gavin Arvizo.
    It is currently owned jointly by a company and Jacko’s estate.

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/4914654/SWAT-team-in-siege-at-Jacko-home.html

    I hope they could stop using that annoying “Jacko”. The British tabloid legacy, you know.

    P.S. Not going into a debate over these outrageous raids I tried to leave a simple comment in the Sun asking them when they will give up the annoying habit of calling Michael Jackson “Jacko”, and you know what? They didn’t approve it once, they did not approve it twice and they did not approve it the third time. The third time I made a screenshot of my question and am placing it here since they don’t allow it there:

    What’s the matter with you guys?
    Why not post a legitimate question from a reader asking you when you will stop calling Michael Jackson “Jacko”?
    Why did you delete my question TWICE?
    Is this freedom of speech or what?
    Why don’t you simply make a note on your article that only anti-Jackson comment will be accepted?
    Something like “Supporters of Michael Jackson are requested not to disturb”?

    Like

  2. April 13, 2013 11:35 am

    “I’m just very wary of John Branca, for a number of reasons (pre and post 2009), that’s all…Actually it was your research that opened my eyes to a lot of the corruption inherent in the AEG / Colony Capital relationship with Michael, and how it connected to Michael’s death” – lopsided man

    I may be wrong of course but in contrast to AEG and Colony I trust Branca. The reason for that is that he is now doing his best for Michael’s children. When people say that “all of it is greed” I don’t understand. He is thinking of the ways to repay Michael’s debt and ensure a prosperous future for his children, so where is the harm?

    One more point. Those who try to drive someone into his grave don’t do their best after this person’s death to restore his legacy and his finances. One thing simply does not go with the other. Imagine Colony or AEG in the place of Branca – they would have robbed Michael of his last shred and that would be it. Therefore I wouldn’t throw Branca into one company with AEG. They may cooperate and smile to each other but it does not mean that they are the same kind of people.

    Like

  3. Lopsided man permalink
    April 13, 2013 2:25 am

    Wow! That Michael’sGuardian blog is good for a few laughs though….

    To be clear, Helena, I don’t think you’re an agent of the Estate, at all. I’m just very wary of John Branca, for a number of reasons (pre and post 2009), that’s all. Also, since Michael’s death, some in the MJ fan community (not you) have tried to make John Branca into a kind of surrogate Michael; fawning on him, giving him undue credit for Michael’s successes. It’s all so overdone. Anyway….

    Actually it was your research that opened my eyes to a lot of the corruption inherent in the AEG / Colony Capital relationship with Michael, and how it connected to Michael’s death. I’m thankful for that.

    Like

  4. newrodrigo permalink
    April 11, 2013 4:11 am

    Honest to God. Nobody exhibits madness like those on Topix.

    Leave them to it. Folk aren’t thick or bored enough to stick around and read their childish ramblings.

    Like

  5. April 11, 2013 2:43 am

    “your fair-mindedness is completely wasted on John Branca (A man I also used to support).” – lopsided man

    Lopsided man, I have to return to the subject and hope that you do your own research in this respect and do not rely on any bloggers (including me). Why I am saying it is because today I’ve come across an article by one blogger who in her madness thinks she knows everything about the sinister ties of the Estate within the fan community. She draws elaborate conspiracy schemes including there many innocent people and accusing them of working for Sony and Branca. It even gave me a thrill to see my modest persona also attributed to a powerful gang:

    “Brookins is listed under “Merder Classics” on Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1OPV16A6RQ62S/ref=cm_cr_rdp_pdp

    She is named as one of the “cyber-trolls” on this forum: http://www.topix.com/forum/who/michael-jackson/T79LHBMM9JE5VTL8O

    ON this forum, VindicateMJ and the “Russian Lady” that tried to convince me she didn’t know David Edwards has this complaint as well (she doesn’t live in Russia either. I know who she is – http://www.topix.com/forum/who/michael-jackson/T79AQAQ8OJJPFTR3E

    Mary Brookins is also tied in with Catherine Gross, who is tied in with Justice4MJ, Erin Jacobs, Seven Bowie and Taaj Malik (blog talk radio show in 2011).

    These people are also connected to Lynton Guest and William Wagener:

    http://mjsinvincible.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/lynton6-author-of-the-trials-of-michael-jackson-continues-to-support-the-invincible-campaign/

    She, Lynton and Deborah Kunesh, QueenB/DonnaB and Karla Jorge are all bully-buddies on Twitter – all cybertrolls with multiple personalities – I mean identities. All paid by the Michael Jackson Estate/Sony partnership. Lynton looks like someone who probably worked for Sandusky at one time. He’s quite a slimey character but we’ll get to him later.” http://michaelsguardian.blogspot.ru/p/lie-la-lie-part-iii.html

    This mad woman probably still thinks that David Edwards and me are one person and this is probably why she believes that I don’t live in Russia. Well, first of all David has a blog of his own and he doesn’t make the mistakes I make (English is his native language, and he lives in the US).

    And second, I do live in Russia and this is exactly why I cannot be an agent of the Estate even in theory. An agent must receive money but due to our recently adopted laws non-commercial work cannot be supported by donations received from across the border. In case someone receives 5 dollars he should immediately report it to the authorities and this person or organization will be thoroughly checked on what kind of underground activity these 5 dollars were spent. The idea is not to use them on organization of mass street rallies, of course.

    The mad woman goes on writing that the above gang (evidently including me) is involved in some affiliate programs which bring them big money. Moreover these people are also engaged in selling Viagra:

    All business they drive to the estate, all “marketing” they do of Sony products, all proceeds from fake charities, children’s hospitals, sunflowers, ROSES – all of it shared with the estate and percentages paid for marketing. It’s called “Affiliate Marketing”. Most major corporations pay affiliate marketers a percentage of what they sell or business they drive to their sites.

    I used to ADVERITISE and sell sales leads to affiliate marketers back in the early 2000’s. I set up separate ADVERTISING accounts to track which ads pulled better from which sites.

    AFFILIATE PROGRAMS paid a percentage of each product you sold. This is how these people make their money. Pay Pal accounts can be tracked, folks. If you have purchased or donated ANYTHING to do with Michael Jackson check your PayPal receipts/accounts and watch where the payment ACTUALLY GOES. This is how they link up. The documentary is the very same one Samantha Degosson and William Wagener is TRYING to work on. It is the SAME DOCUMENTARY I OUTED ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO through phone calls from Raymone Bain, Stephanie Wilburn, Stacy and the other fellow that called me to take part in this documentary.

    stacyfountain@yahoo.com,
    She also back in 2006 was selling Viagra over the internet
    2701 Hot’n’new Rock hard manhood, multiple explosions and several times Stacy
    Stacy.Fountain@… Jul 7, 2006
    9:45 pm source, http://finance.dir.groups.yahoo.com/group/SEL/messages/2705?o=1&xm=1&m=p
    So if you wanted to know who those people were that were spamming your social forums or emails with Viagra adds, there’s one!

    Well, only today I’ve had an email message asking me whether I had any affiliate programs and requesting permission to be part of them, and in my naivety I wondered what it is and even promised to do my best to arrange it if it’s something good. Now I am more than sure that I am not going to arrange anything of the kind.

    And I am not selling Viagra either, and suppose that Stacy mentioned above is not selling it either. Occasionally I also get some offers of Viagra from the people I know, but each time it is followed by a hasty message that someone’s email has been hacked and all people in the address book get these Viagra emails – so “Please don’t pay attention to it and delete”. Of course I don’t pay attention and of course I delete.

    And of course I don’t write crazy posts about all the above madness. I sometimes just make a crazy comment about it.

    Like

  6. April 7, 2013 11:14 am

    “As you say we do not know the content of the emails and there is no reason to assume anything bad here – what if Branca protested in those emails and tried to stop those documentaries from further spread once he saw them? (Helena). You’re right, but the fact that it’s the Jacksons who are entering this into evidence seems significant” – Lopsided man

    Lopsided man, the fact that the Estate emails are entered into evidence by the Jacksons testifies to only one thing at the moment – that they contain some information proving the Jacksons’ point of view, otherwise they would not be entering them as evidence for their case, right? If AEG regarded them as their evidence it would be much worse.

    “Michael had little to no control over much of his life or career in the last year. My question is this: is there any evidence that things were any dfferent with John Branca?”

    Certainly not. If AEG was controlling Michael’s life they were also doing their best not to include in his team anyone who would (at least potentially) defend his interests. But by seeking an answer to this question you have explained it yourself how exceptionally careful both Michael and Branca had to be during the conversation they had with each other.

    Please remember that Randy Phillips was present at their meeting and was surely checking up each word of it. I doubt very much that Michael openly said to Branca – “Come and save me from these people”. He was kept hostage by AEG, so how could he talk to his only link with the outside world and the only person on whose help he could rely? Only in a way that those present could not suspect anything.

    I remember reading about the circumstances how Frank Dileo was hired. After meeting each other Michael and Frank had to seek Randy Phillips approval (which is an outrageous thing in and of itself!) and Randy Phillips somewhat unwillingly agreed. Something similar must have happened when hiring Branca – no complaints from MJ, only glowing reports for AEG, and seeking assistance in innocent things like “some future projects” of theirs. Michael’s goal was to get him back and all the rest of it could be settled later. This is why Michael let him go on vacation before a harsh fight that would go at least for half a year or much more.

    Why do I assume that Branca was coming in to help Michael and not to assist AEG? First, because AEG did not really need him (such a strong lawyer was clearly an obstacle AEG could hardly control) and second, because I judge people by what they do and not by what they say.

    Branca proved that he had Michael’s best interests at heart by his tireless work now to stabilize Michael’s finances and provide for the stable future of Michael’s children. If he meant harm to Michael (and his children) he would have paid whatever he could pay and leave Michael’s heirs with zero money. It isn’t the duty of the Estate to generate money for the children, their duty is to sort out the debts and that’s it. However now Branca is doing what is not even expected of him (or any other lawyer).

    “If John Branca was returning to right AEG’s many wrongs, they would’ve known it; they woud’ve felt it. He wouldn’t have been greeted with open arms as he was.”

    Who told you that AEG greeted him with their arms open? Randy Phillips? And you believe him? Yes, he did say some ritual words about “how he welcomed” a new lawyer by Michael’s side. But these are only words, while the reality speaks to the opposite. In that very article where Randy Phillips was allegedly opening his arms to Branca, there were so many innuendoes against him that they outweighed Randy Phillips’s words by a ton.

    When that several part series of anti-Branca articles appeared I analyzed them to see whether Branca was indeed to blame for anything and found that his activities were impeccable though the articles implied otherwise.

    The series was called “How Michael Jackson Nearly Lost His Prized Music Catalog” and it was about – no, it was not about AEG through whom Michael was to really lose his catalog (now even the media acknowledges it), but it was about Branca, the person through whom Michael actually acquired the catalog.

    The series was an incredible read and full of innuendoes like the following ones:

    – But did Branca …always have his client’s best interests at heart?
    – But some might conclude that Branca is no hero at all.
    – A proposal in 2003 …would lead some to question Branca’s role in Jackson’s business affairs.
    – So why then had Branca worked so hard, as the secret files appear to indicate, for an outcome most feared by his client?

    I did look into all those stories and found that the documents attached to that series of articles proved exactly the opposite of what the author was saying. No secret files, no nothing – the investigator hired by Jackson to check up Branca’s activites proved that his behavior was impeccable. This was indeed reported in a special file, after which Michael rehired Branca again. Michael’s new lawyer (Le Grand) also testified about it at the 2005 trial and once again said that there was no wrongdoing on the part of Branca.

    Since the author of that series of articles behaved as if he didn’t know about it (though he himself gave all the necessary links), it became clear that someone was trying to slander Branca on purpose. Who this party might be? Who would be so much interested in smearing Branca – the only person who is really generating money for Michael’s children now? Please answer this question yourself.

    “I’m not questioning John Branca’s talent and skills at negotiating contracts and making money for the Estate”

    Good. But you are not mentioning the fact that it isn’t John Branca duty to do all this for the Estate. There are much easier ways for him to make money than handling all this hate and dirt pouring on him from everyone around. If he simply sorted out Michael’s debts and left it at that he would have still received his lawyer’s fee, only Michael’s children would have been left with nothing. But John Branca wants to leave to Michael’s children a huge amount of money which they rightfully deserve and this is the best argument in his favor.

    P.S. By the way I hear that the Estate is paying for Katherine’s lawsuit against AEG.

    Like

  7. Lopsided man permalink
    April 7, 2013 4:12 am

    Thank you for replying Helena. 🙂

    As you say we do not know the content of the emails and there is no reason to assume anything bad here – what if Branca protested in those emails and tried to stop those documentaries from further spread once he saw them? – Helena

    You’re right, but the fact that it’s the Jacksons who are entering this into evidence seems significant.

    We will likely never have conclusive evidence of all the events that happened during those months during the production of TII leading to June 25. There to many important people with things to hide, and the means to hide them. But we do have enough to make certain deductions based the publicly available documents and statements.
    It comes down to this: If Michael’s hiring/firing decisions regarding Tohme Tohme (repeated attempts to fire him throughout March, April, May 2009) , Grace Rwaramba (whom Michael tried to bring back after Tohme fired her, only to have AEG fire her again), Joel Katz, Conrad Murray, all depended on AEGs consent, what does that tell us?
    It tells me the same thing you’ve pointed out in your research: Michael had little to no control over much of his life or career in the last year.
    My question is this: is there any evidence that things were any dfferent with John Branca?
    In explaining how Branca’s was brought back, Dileo & Katz have said that Michael asked Frank Dileo to tell Branca to come up with a blueprint for Michael’s future, a month before they met in the week of June 18, 2009. That was their story after June 25. So Branca’s return had been a month in the making. After getting papers, letters signed by Michael, Branca goes off on vacation in Cabo. Was he taking any measures to fix the AEG deal?
    If John Branca was returning to right AEG’s many wrongs, they would’ve known it; they woud’ve felt it. He wouldn’t have been greeted with open arms as he was.
    Meanwhile, Michael Amir Williams, one of the few in Michael’s personal staff who escaped the Colony/AEG hatchet, says that he never heard any talk of bringing John Branca back, BEFORE June 25,2009.

    “To do research of the matter we need to find out why this was done – possibly because Joel Katz was keeping all the necessary legal documentation of MJ’s affairs and was expected to pass them over to Branca over a protracted period of time? Joel was also on board of Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Branca had no right to fire him from there (the way I understand it) and simply had to put up with his presence. In what capacity was Joel Katz there? Was he allegedly representing Michael Jackson’s interests? Then how did Joel Katz get to this position? Who nominated him – Tohme? ” – Helena

    Branca was under no obligation to keep him on board as Estate co-counsel. Especially with his knowledge of Katz’s involvement in the AEG contract fiasco. As Estate executor it is his prerogative to decide who sits on the Sony/ATV board to represent Michael’s/the Estate’s interests. Just because Katz was given a seat at the board prior to Michael’s death, doesn’t mean he’s a board member for life.

    “As regards Branca’s statement in “defence of AEG against Katherine” I simply do not remember one (please give me a link to it), however I can imagine why the Estate does not admire this lawsuit. First Branca understands the power of AEG and the flaws of Katherine’s lawsuit (I also see them); second their business now is to generate money for Michael, create a favorable business environment and not quarrel with anyone unless it is a necessity like Tohme who demands money from the Estate; and third, they see Katherine’s suit as potentially draining the Estate of money and money is their primary duty at the moment.” – Helena

    “The suggestion that John Branca or Howard Weitzman have a conflict of interest when it comes to AEG, and for that reason, did not join Katherine Jackson in suing AEG, is not only false but reckless and noticeably unsupported by any facts. The Estate chose not to join in the lawsuit because it saw no evidence that AEG was culpable in Michael’s tragic passing.” – Estate statement response to Randall Sullivan book (September 2012).
    Really? “No evidence”?! Have they been paying any attention in between counting all their money?
    The Estate could’ve kept a neutral stance, but in releasing this statement defending AEG, they’ve made it clear where and with who they stand with. They weren’t arguing about legal flaws, either. This was completely out of line.
    ——————————–
    I’m not questioning John Branca’s talent and skills at negotiating contracts and making money for the Estate. I just think he’s done certain questionable things that deserve greater scrutiny. I also don’t think he deserves credit for doing what he’s supposed to be doing – and being paid handsomely to do, I might add….

    Just something for us to consider.

    Like

  8. April 4, 2013 12:18 am

    “Katherine still has a good case regardless but the amount will be minimized for sure.”

    Yes, I also think that the amount will be less, but hopefully AEG will be still forced to pay. Unfortunately these people understand only the language of money. Randy Phillips explained his inhuman schedule for Michael by this being a “business matter”. Well, this civil suit is also a business matter – only the one ruled by law. AEG wanted a business matter, so they are getting one.

    Like

  9. TatumMarie permalink
    April 3, 2013 11:38 pm

    I wouldn’t want the amount that she is requesting to hinder her law suit. It was calculated that Michael would have grossed over 100 billion had he lived so the kids and mother would be entitled to 40 of it or something like that. It would be more reasonable to conclude a billion or two because this is closer to what he grossed in almost half his life span. However, it sounds to me like the lawyer representing her has no real concept of earning potential or money. Katherine still has a good case regardless but the amount will be minimized for sure.

    Like

  10. April 3, 2013 12:36 pm

    This is Tom Mesereaus opinion about AEG. I think he asks the right questions http://piersmorgan.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/02/thomas-mesereau-on-upcoming-trial-between-jacksons-and-concert-promoter-i-think-its-an-uphill-battle-for-aeg/?iref=allsearch

    Susanne, thank you very much. The interview is great. I’ll immediately make a post of it.

    Like

  11. April 3, 2013 12:17 pm

    “The only issue on Katherine’s side it seems (I hope it’s a TMZ blunder) is the amount that she request from them- wasn’t it 40 billion dollars?” – Tatum

    No, it isn’t a TMZ blunder – this figure is reported by all sources. How Katherine’s lawyers came to it I don’t know – they will probably explain it during the trial and I don’t even want to get into it not to spoil the picture.

    To me this sum is a reflection of Katherine’s emotional state. It is something like “you can pay me a trillion but it won’t replace me my son”. Or it is the fury which wants to ruin AEG and destroy them as an entity. This sum seems not to be something meant for settlement (a concrete sum agreed by lawyers up to the last cent of it), but as a desire to take everything AEG made on the blood of other people and leave them naked.

    In a way it is a mirror-like situation with the contract they made for Michael. They wanted to strip him of everything he had, and it seems that the other side is motivated by the same desire. I am not sure that revenge is the best motivation, but when I read AEG’s contract this was exactly the feeling I had. The contract is an outrage. These people should not be allowed to go on functioning in the same manner.

    I am more than sure that if Katherine wins she will spend much of it on charity purposes. Probably Heal the world fund. Probably Michael’s hospital for children. Probably a documentary William Wagener hoped to make to show Sneddon’s activities against Michael. Probably some long-term charity projects, we’ll see.

    If I were her I would explain to the world what she is going to do with at least part of this money, if she wins.

    Like

  12. April 3, 2013 10:55 am

    This is Tom Mesereaus opinion about AEG. I think he asks the right questions:

    “If they thought he was that flaky and they thought he was that disturbed, why did they enter into a contract with him to do all these concerts?” he asked Piers Morgan. “They invested over 30 million dollars before the concerts even began. If they thought he was that bad and they thought his reputation was suffering from all these other issues, why in the world did they go into business with him? I think it’s an uphill battle for AEG.”

    http://piersmorgan.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/02/thomas-mesereau-on-upcoming-trial-between-jacksons-and-concert-promoter-i-think-its-an-uphill-battle-for-aeg/?iref=allsearch

    Like

  13. April 3, 2013 3:36 am

    This is a great article, Helena. Everything is true, including Michael’s financial situation which became more evident after his death. In combination with his earning potential, in order for the executives to turn this around in such a limited amount of time only shows that his finances were not exactly what the media and even some close to him made them out to be. Also, AEG should be ashamed of themselves for these exchanges about Michael and hope they go down in court. The only issue on Katherine’s side it seems (I hope it’s a TMZ blunder) is the amount that she request from them- wasn’t it 40 billion dollars? I hope that’s not true because it would be way more than what they could bring to the table.

    Like

  14. Sina permalink
    April 2, 2013 11:35 pm

    “We’re talking about Michael Jackson,” Putnam said. “This is a man who would show up in pajamas. This is a man who would stop traffic and get out and dance on top of his car. This is a man who would go to public events with a monkey named Bubbles. This is a man who said he slept in an oxygen chamber.”

    Contracting a man who in their opinion is a nutcase and a drug addict, then blackmailing and bullying him to rehearse and negotiating with his doctor over medical equipment and treatment, after which he allegedly causes his own death, will not make them look good.

    It corroborates perfectly with what they thought of him from the start, what is revealed in their emails and many statements they made AND how they treated him.

    I hope the jury hears and sees all this and it backfires on them.

    Like

  15. April 2, 2013 11:08 pm

    “Whoa! what a low blow you know you don’t have a case when you resort to tabloid stories and unproven statements and rumors, it is also very evident that by bringing up the pajama thing and Bubbles that this guy is trying is just prejudice and is trying to trick the public that Michael was a crazy guy he was capable of anything.” – Truth Prevail

    Yes, it is turning ugly in its very extreme. Another round of the same dirty stories retold for a hundredth time to prove to the public that AEG had the right to behave to this “freak” in any way they saw fit.

    What was Michael Jackson? A despicable creature. And what is AEG Live? A God among the Gods of the Olympus. How can this old woman and his children even dare challenge them?

    And why aren’t they sitting at home and minding their own business? The gods explained to this old woman a dozen times that they don’t owe her any explanations. Her son was trash, a basket case and he died. So what of it? Just let us step over his dead body and go on living our beautiful lives.

    Oh, this old woman still wants something of them? Then she will be drowned in the mud together with the children. His children. They should learn their lesson too – never challenge gods and never get in their way.

    Like

  16. Truth Prevail permalink
    April 2, 2013 9:57 pm

    “We’re talking about Michael Jackson,” Putnam said. “This is a man who would show up in pajamas. This is a man who would stop traffic and get out and dance on top of his car. This is a man who would go to public events with a monkey named Bubbles. This is a man who said he slept in an oxygen chamber.”

    Whoa! what a low blow you know you don’t have a case when you resort to tabloid stories and unproven statements and rumors, it is also very evident that by bringing up the pajama thing and Bubbles that this guy is trying is just prejudice and is trying to trick the public that Michael was a crazy guy he was capable of anything.

    Like

  17. April 2, 2013 5:46 pm

    As could be expected the media is quoting only the AEG side. And all this will be followed by a CNN “documentary” about it:

    Jury Selection Begins Tuesday In $40B Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Trial
    Posted on Apr 2, 2013 @ 6:02AM | By Neil J. Woulfe

    Jury selection begins Tuesday morning in the $40 billion dollar Michael Jackson wrong deathful civil lawsuit filed against giant concert promoter AEG Live by the King of Pop’s mother, Katherine Jackson, RadarOnline.com is reporting.

    Two groups of 35 potential jurors will be questioned Tuesday about their knowledge of the case, as attorneys on both sides begin the grueling process of whittling down the jury pool to the eventual 12, not including alternatives.

    Katherine Jackson is expected to attend the trial every day, and Michael’s two oldest children, Prince Michael I, 16, and Paris, 14, are expected to testify. Jackson’s youngest child, Prince Michael II (also known as Blanket) will not take the stand.

    As RadarOnline.com previously reported, Jackson died two weeks before his This Is It concerts, organized by AEG Live, were to have kicked off at London’s O2 arena in the summer of 2009 – it was to be the Thriller singer’s much anticipated comeback.

    Attorneys for Jackson’s mother, Katherine, and his three children, maintain that AEG Live is liable because the concert promoter hired and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, who used the powerful surgical anesthetic Propofol to help treat the Billie Jean singer’s insomnia. (Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and remains behind bars.)

    During the trial, AEG Live will aggressively fight the accusations it is liable for Jackson’s death. The company is expected to bring up child molestation accusations against Jackson, for which he was acquitted after a trial, and evidence of his drug addiction, reports CNN.

    “I don’t know how you can’t look to Mr. Jackson’s responsibility there,” AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam told the cable news network. “He was a grown man.” Putnam was interviewed for Michael Jackson: The Final Days, a CNN documentary that will premiere this Friday.

    “Mr. Jackson is a person who was known to doctor shop,” Putnam added. “He was known to be someone who would tell one doctor one thing and another doctor something else.”

    The child molestation trial is relevant because it “resulted in an incredible increase in his drug intake,” Putnam said.

    “We’re talking about Michael Jackson,” Putnam said. “This is a man who would show up in pajamas. This is a man who would stop traffic and get out and dance on top of his car. This is a man who would go to public events with a monkey named Bubbles. This is a man who said he slept in an oxygen chamber.”

    The Jackson family claims Michael would have earned a staggering $500 billion dollars over the course of his lifetime had he not unexpectedly died on June 25, 2009, and that they would have reaped $40 billion of his vast fortune– hence the grand total the family is seeking in their lawsuit.

    In defending itself, AEG Live’s defense will claim that Murray was never officially an AEG employee, but rather was chosen and paid by Michael Jackson as his personal physician for nearly four years before the singer’s shocking death.

    Interestingly, Murray signed a contract with AEG only the night before Jackson’s death to act as his personal physician while he performed 50 shows at London’s O2 Arena in the second half of 2009 and into 2010; he was to be paid $150,000 a month.

    However, although there was apparently an oral agreement, AEG executives and Jackson never signed the actual contract. Putnam said. The Jackson legal team will argue the signed contract was not necessary to establish employment.

    In another twist, Murray had previously told detectives that it was his understanding that he was Jackson’s employee, not AEG Live’s, even though the concert promoter would actually be cutting his paychecks.

    “He was chosen by Michael Jackson,” Putnam argued. “He was brought to Los Angeles by Michael Jackson. He had been Michael Jackson’s long-time physician and continued in that capacity and was directed by him and could only be fired at will by him.”

    AEG Live became involved with Murray only after Jackson had persuaded him to join his “tour party” for the This Is It concerts, Putnam told CNN. “Then what happens is AEG starts to go back and forth with him and his attorney, Dr. Conrad Murray, with drafts of contracts.”

    Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos will hear arguments for television cameras in the Los Angeles courtroom just before jury selection starts Tuesday morning. (Jackson’s camp is expected to support cameras being allowed, while AEG Live is expected to fight it.)

    The Jackson v. AEG Live trial could last two or three months.
    http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2013/04/michael-jackson-wrongful-death-trial-jury-selection-los-angeles/

    Like

  18. April 2, 2013 4:14 pm

    William Etling, the real estate broker and newspaper columnist cited earlier is a 41 year resident of Santa Ynez, and the author of Sideways in Neverland: Life in the Santa Ynez Valley. He gave his estimation of the net price of Neverland in 2005 when the book was published (the Neverland deal was finalized with Barrack three years later, in 2008):

    “When novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can’t Go Home Again, he was talking about personal growth. For Michael Jackson, it was a deluge of dozens of deputies that changed his feelings for the old home place.

    The embattled artist has announced he will never again permanently live in Fort Neverland, only visit from time to time, feeding the perpetual, popular rumor that the 2,676 acre carnival castle is for sale.

    Full disclosure: I am a real estate broker close to Mr. Jackson, in the sense that I’m in Los Olivos, and he’s five miles up the road. He walked past my office once.

    Neverland Ranch is certainly not in our multiple listing service, and I doubt it ever will be. Properties like that don’t need the mass market. There won’t be any Sunday open houses.

    So what’s it worth? That’s going to depend on who you talk to.

    Take this into account: the broker who snags the listing will instantly become the highest profile Realtor in the world. You can imagine what that opportunity will do to the hyper-optimistic heart that beats in the average agent’s chest. The realistic value will double, triple, quadruple, as brokers compete for instant celebrity.

    If you want to be a real estate star, the advertising budget won’t break the bank. The word is out. The problem will be screening the hordes of people without a dime who want to tour the Lost Boy’s lair. Expensive estates can attract sick people.

    An appraiser determines value by comparing and analyzing sales on the open market. Realtors do the same, but because we are not licensed appraisers, we don’t call our study an appraisal. We call it a “comparative market analysis.”

    Few homes are directly comparable. We don’t just add up the sales and divide to get an average price. Square footage, quality of construction, land area, views, neighbors, neighborhood, landscaping, amenities such as pools, tennis courts, barns, outbuildings, and guest houses, easements, access, and age are just a few of the considerations that must be weighed. Road noise, terrain, driveways, soils, water quality and quantity, environmental hazards, homeowner’s association issues, zoning, market trends and a host of other issues come into play.

    Clearly, any opinion of value is highly subjective, easily argued up or down. Until the surprise, “last hurrah” open house, I hadn’t been on the property since I hauled hay there 30 years ago. It’s changed a bit. But just for fun, let’s run the numbers.

    Eight thousand acres bordering Jackson’s ranch sold in May of 2003 for a reported $8 million, or $1,000 per acre. It was not the caliber of Neverland. It was more remote, more rugged, with less oak forests, more steep, sage-covered hillsides. Access was from Foxen Canyon Road, not far from Fess Parker and Zaca Mesa wineries, along the gorgeous wine trail that meanders towards tiny Sisquoc and the courtroom in Santa Maria.

    Let’s be generous. If we suppose Jackson’s land is worth more than what his neighbor got, say $10,000 an acre, his land alone is in the $27 million dollar range. Now we add what’s built there, the buildings, roads, Ferris wheels and so on that make up the improvements. When Jackson bought in May of 1988 from Palm Springs- now Las Vegas- golf and mega-resort developer William Bone, he is said to have paid $14.6 million for the land and improvements.

    Those of you who had trouble getting that patio cover approved will be amused to hear there was a 12,522 square foot home, 2,195 square foot guest house, 2,084 square foot “garage-office,” 2,271 square foot “recreation building” and a pool on the property, plus several older homes and barns from its days as a working cattle ranch.

    Jackson put in the 165 square foot guard house, barns, animal pens, 80 seat theatre, music stage, two trains, a train station, and numerous rides.

    No buyer, not the fussiest, has ever asked me for a giraffe pen, snake barn, railway or amusement park. Appraisers call that kind of thing “misplaced improvements.” Let’s just add what the county assessor does, around $10 million. That brings our total for land and improvements to $37 million.

    In addition, Jackson reportedly bought $12 million worth of personal property, such as custom furniture and African wall hangings. The fully stocked 640 square foot wine cellar held bottles valued at thousands of dollars each. Throw that in the pot, and the total is up to $49 million.

    Now double, triple or quadruple that, as you strive to be the most optimistic- and most famous- listing broker in the world.

    Forbes magazine’s 2004 list of the ten most expensive homes publicly for sale in America in 2003 ranged from $38 to $75 million.

    When it hits the market, Neverland will be among them. Call it a hunch”.
    http://www.myspace.com/sidewaysinneverland/blog

    The above estimation was the net price of Neverland roughly calculated in 2005 on the basis of the approximate cost of land and property there, but without the price tag of Michael Jackson’s name attached to it.

    Draw your own conclusions from the above.

    P.S. Just imagine how terribly Michael must have felt about the Arvizo lies, the incessant searches of his home and his ruined dreams that he vowed to never set foot on Neverland – the heavenly place he loved so dearly! The 2005 case was a mortal insult and wound that never healed.

    The Arvizos, Sneddon, Diane Dimond and all the rest of them will never be able to wash Michael’s blood off their hands.

    Like

  19. April 2, 2013 4:09 pm

    I have come across an article about Neverland which (unfortunately) confirmed everything said here about Barrack and his ‘saving’ Neverland. The article was written by a local real estate broker and news columnist who wasn’t involved in the deal but as a local of the Santa Ynez Valley evidently knew some details. Here it is:

    Neverland Never More

    by William Etling

    Neverland has changed hands

    When his company bailed Michael Jackson out of foreclosure with a refinance of a twenty-three million dollar debt in May, insiders predicted it was only a matter of time before Tom Barrack took over the keys to the ranch.

    It didn’t take long. On Monday, November 10, Michael Jackson officially deeded over ownership of Neverland’s 2,675 oak studded acres to Sycamore Valley Ranch Company, LLC. Neighbors said moving vans and merry-go-rounds have been rolling down Figueroa Mountain Road.

    Unsurprisingly, the man Forbes calls Richest American #227, Thomas Barrack, and the LLC have a common mailing address, 1999 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90067.

    Barrack, 61, has owned ranches in Santa Ynez for decades. His net worth is estimated at $2.0 billion. Early reports valued this deal at $35 million. Some sources said Jackson retained an interest.

    From the Forbes profile: “Real estate kingpin attended U. of Southern California. Studied law at U. of San Diego, became international finance attorney. Worked on real estate side of Robert Bass’ investment firm. Founded Colony Capital 1991. Made first fortune buying up bad real estate loans from struggling S&Ls. Today firm manages $25 billion. Invests in businesses with underlying real estate assets: casino (Station Casinos), hotels (Costa Smeralda in Sardinia). In May bought $23.5 million mortgage of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch from Fortress Investment Group, brought financially troubled pop star to negotiation table.”

    He’s known locally as a polo fanatic, and recently won approval for expanded wine operations at his sprawling Happy Canyon ranch/vineyard.

    Calls to Barrack’s home went unanswered, and his plans for Neverland are unknown. The ranch was called Sycamore Valley Ranch before Jackson bought it in 1988, when the stately tudor manor was built by Palm Springs developer William Bone.

    http://www.edhat.com/site/tidbit.cfm?id=2752

    Another analyst added to it:

    …the real estate savvy Barrack saw a good deal and he seized it.

    http://upstart.bizjournals.com/news/wire/2008/05/12/michael-jacksons-neighborly-real-estate-deal.html?page=2

    Just as I thought – “saving” Neverland wasn’t an issue. Seizing the precious property was.

    Like

  20. April 2, 2013 11:28 am

    “*BTW, according to legal papers filed by the Jackson family attorneys in their AEG lawsuit, they found a chain of June 22, 2009 emails between John Branca & Zoe Zarkos (a producer involved in anti-MJ propaganda documentaries like ‘Michael Jackson’s Boys’ & ‘Michael Jackson: What Really Happened’) about a ‘British documentary”. Zoe’s next documentary ‘Michael Jackson’s Last Days: What Really Happened’ premiered on July 12, 2009. We don’t yet know the content of the emails, but they could shed light on why the family distrusts him so much.” – Lopsided man

    This is interesting though to me it sounds like an innuendo. Branca never thought Michael guilty of anything. As you say we do not know the content of the emails and there is no reason to assume anything bad here – what if Branca protested in those emails and tried to stop those documentaries from further spread once he saw them?

    This is another reason why the truth should be told. In this thick soup of innuendoes everyone who gets into it emerges smeared, while the truth will make it clear at last (whatever it is). However this will happen only in case the media reflects it correctly course. But this is a question to the media and not to the trial or truth itself.

    Like

  21. April 2, 2013 11:02 am

    “John Branca didn’t resolve the conflicts of interest with AEG, he sanctified them…June 25 didn’t change much at all for Branca, AEG, Katz, Tohme, Dileo except getting Michael out of the way.”

    Lopsided man, I am taking note of your arguments but I am wary to throw everyone into one pile. There was a very long period when I did not see any connection between Colony and AEG for example, and never spoke about it, but after the research done I am absolutely sure of it now. There was also a period of doubt in Frank Dileo – trust turning into doubt then turning into trust again (with only slight reservations) and this was also the result of research and connecting the dots and not arbitrary “I prefer to think so” only. The reservations are due to the fact that Dileo had to be on AEG’s payroll because of Michael’s financial difficulties and this was a vulnerable and dependent position (same as Murray’s).

    John Branca has not yet given me reason enough to think bad of him, even despite the fact you’ve mentioned here: “One of Branca’s first decisions (as he remained in Cabo for a few more days, and hadn’t even seen the 2002 will himself) was to name Joel Katz as Estate co-counsel”.

    Up till now this piece of information is the only one we can have against Branca. It also needs verification and further research as we do with everything else.

    To verify the information first we need to check up its factual side – when, how, in what circumstances it happened and what the current state of affairs is.

    To do research of the matter we need to find out why this was done – possibly because Joel Katz was keeping all the necessary legal documentation of MJ’s affairs and was expected to pass them over to Branca over a protracted period of time? Joel was also on board of Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Branca had no right to fire him from there (the way I understand it) and simply had to put up with his presence. In what capacity was Joel Katz there? Was he allegedly representing Michael Jackson’s interests? Then how did Joel Katz get to this position? Who nominated him – Tohme?

    Tohme had a general power of attorney from Michael, so was it possible for him to nominate Joel Katz there? Could Joel Katz be dismissed from it on the basis of revoking Tohme’s power of attorney? Can it be a long and complex legal problem which needs several preliminary steps before handling the main issue? In short can Joel Katz be a kind of an elephant Branca had to put up with since he was already in the room and it was difficult to get him out? So was it a necessity to name Katz a co-counsel (if he was named as such)? And what is a “co-counsel” at all? An advisor? If it is simply an advisor then why not?

    The above is an example of my usual train of thoughts, and unless I answer all these questions and verify every little thing I simply do not pass the final judgment, especially since there are many positive points to Branca’s credit. They are over there in the open for everyone to see and practically do not need verification – the Neverland deal, purchase of the Beatles catalog as well as numerous projects generating money for Michael after his death which allow repayment of the debts (money is the Estate’s main business). When Branca was handling Michael’s finances they were in a perfect condition. So for me the positive points are outweighing the negative ones and by a wide margin too.

    As regards Branca’s statement in “defence of AEG against Katherine” I simply do not remember one (please give me a link to it), however I can imagine why the Estate does not admire this lawsuit. First Branca understands the power of AEG and the flaws of Katherine’s lawsuit (I also see them); second their business now is to generate money for Michael, create a favorable business environment and not quarrel with anyone unless it is a necessity like Tohme who demands money from the Estate; and third, they see Katherine’s suit as potentially draining the Estate of money and money is their primary duty at the moment.

    On the other hand Katherine’s feelings are impossible not to take into account. Her dearest child, the one who took after her most and whose three children were left orphans, died under all the pressure of AEG Live and she simply cannot leave it alone and put up with it. After reading AEG’s contract I cannot put up with it either. Monsters like AEG Live will drain people of blood and we will continue applauding them? No way, it is impossible even to imagine it.

    As regards Katherine’s lawsuit I think that Branca simply wants to stay away from the bloodbath that follows. He wants to do what he always did for Michael – good business, and all this bloodshed is not the best environment for it. The fact that he was subpoenaed by AEG is no wonder – they evidently want him to testify about Michael’s finances. And since it is a subpoena there is probably no chance for him to avoid it. It is neither his guilt, nor a sign of him being in collusion with AEG.

    And the fact that he will probably have to testify about it explains best of all why Branca did not want this trial (if he didn’t).

    P.S. Sorry for the spelling. Now some mistakes have been corrected.

    Like

  22. Lopsided man permalink
    April 2, 2013 3:17 am

    Helena, I always admire your fair-mindedness, but it’s completely wasted on John Branca (A man I also used to support).

    Shortly after being “rehired”, Branca says he went on vacation with his family in Cabo San Lucas, which is where he heard Michael had died.

    One of Branca’s first decisions (as he remained in Cabo for a few more days, and hadn’t even seen the 2002 will himself) was to name Joel Katz as Estate co-counsel.

    Yes, Joel Katz, one of the architects behind the entire AEG “contract” sham, continues to earn millions of dollars from Michael’s estate. A smooth transition, unimpeded by the events of June 25, 2009.

    So, John Branca didn’t resolve the conflicts of interest with AEG, he sanctified them.

    If John Branca was brought in as part of MJ’s team to mitigate any conflicts of interest – for AEG & Joel Katz, why was Katz still referring to himself as Michael’s “entertainment attorney” after June 25? Katz didn’t work for Ziffren (Branca’s lawfirm). The answer is Branca wasn’t replacing anyone. He was brought in to work WITH AEG, Katz,etc, and not to fight them on Michael’s behalf.

    It’s why the Estate never filed a wrongful lawsuit against Conrad Murray, even though it was within their purview (it would’ve opened up a nasty can of worms for AEG).

    It’s why John Branca issued a statement in AEG’s defence against the Katherine’s wrongful death lawsuit, and is one of AEG’s witnesses.

    June 25 didn’t change much at all for Branca, AEG, Katz, Tohme, Dileo except getting Michael out of the way. They were all able to get on with the business of Michael Jackson without interference from Michael Jackson. Tohme has to take the fall because he was too greedy (No honor among thieves, I suppose). Now Branca has to sue him to untangle some of the business dealings, and decisions he made. But make no mistake: Branca continues to protect AEG.

    I see no evidence that Michael had any independent representation in the final days…..

    —–

    *BTW, according to legal papers filed by the Jackson family attorneys in their AEG lawsuit, they found a chain of June 22, 2009 emails between John Branca & Zoe Zarkos (a producer involved in anti-MJ propaganda documentaries like ‘Michael Jackson’s Boys’ & ‘Michael Jackson: What Really Happened’) about a ‘British documentary”. Zoe’s next documentary ‘Michael Jackson’s Last Days: What Really Happened’ premiered on July 12, 2009.

    We don’t yet know the content of the emails, but they could shed light on why the family distrusts him so much.

    Like

  23. Truth Prevail permalink
    April 2, 2013 12:28 am

    @VindicateMJ

    WOW! AEG are ruthless bastards, thanks for your series of articles exposing the ruthless ways of AEG I found out a lot about them thanks to your articles.

    Like

  24. April 1, 2013 10:26 pm

    15 March 2013

    Michael Jackson’s son will testify at his wrongful death lawsuit trial.

    Prince Jackson will take the stand in his grandmother Katherine Jackson’s civil case against AEG Live – which accuses the company of being responsible for negligently hiring Dr. Conrad Murray to care for the late King of Pop – and is expected to give evidence on conversations he had with his father about the concert promoter.

    A source told RadarOnline.com: ”Prince absolutely plans on testifying.

    ”Prince very much wants to take the stand and plans to tell jurors about specific conversations he had with his father about AEG.

    Prince will also testify about the fateful day his father died, as he was an eyewitness to the efforts that were made to save his life.”

    The 16-year-old’s siblings, Paris, 15, and Blanket, 11, aren’t expected to testify, however.

    In the lawsuit, Katherine, 82, contends that AEG Live – which was behind the late singer’s ‘This Is It’ comeback concerts at The O2 arena in London – were responsible for Dr. Murray, who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter following Michael’s death, and failed to properly vet the physician before hiring him.

    The ‘Thriller’ hitmaker died in June 2009 after being administered a lethal dose of Propofol by Murray.
    The trial is set to begin on April 2.

    http://www.contactmusic.com/news/michael-jackson-s-son-to-testify-in-wrongful-death-case_3556865

    Like

  25. April 1, 2013 9:48 pm

    “Who’s decision was it to have the kids testify?” – Truth prevail

    I’ve read that Prince’s testimony at the trial is his own decision. But a pre-trial deposition of each of the three children is a full AEG’s right and they ruthlessly insisted on it in their motions. They wanted seven hours of deposition for each child, except Blanket for whom they said they could agree to a shorter time. But only in their office which for some reason was a must.

    Prince was the first to be deposed in their lawyers’ office and treated very roughly which is why the guardians demanded that Paris should be deposed on a neutral territory – in the courthouse, in the jury’s room where the judge could supervise it. AEG resisted it like crazy but from the latest information I got the impression that the guardians had their way.

    AEG’s unconditional right to depose the children is a good illustration of what Michael Jackson’s lawyers could have done to Jordan Chandler in 1993.

    I’ve written about it in some posts – in a civil suit the defense has an unconditional right to depose the accusers, even if they are children. This is why Bert Fields was planning to depose Jordan “in due time”, only he was dismissed by Weizman for a strategic mistake he had made and replaced by Johnny Cochran who followed a different route.

    However if Fields or Cochran had deposed Jordan, the boy would have had to explain to the defense attorneys why his description of MJ’s genitalia did not match the photos and was actually a complete opposite to them.

    Jordan would have had an extremely rough time and would have possibly even cracked down under the pressure. If this had happened there would have probably been no settlement at all.

    Since the right to depose Jordan was unconditional it seems to me that Michael simply felt sorry for him and gave his attorney instructions to resort to it as the last measure. Eventually Cochran chose not to fight letting Michael down this way, but initially it was obviously due to Michael’s intervention that they spared Jordan. His later statements made it clear that he was sorry for Jordan and thought it was only his father’s guilt.

    But AEG is not Michael Jackson and they are not going to spare or feel sorry for anyone. Children or no children – what difference does it make to them?

    AEG is a slaughter-house. This is how they treated Michael Jackson too. This is how they talked to him during those “meetings”. This is what they would have done to Michael if he had cancelled at least once concert. This is how they terrorized him and this is why he was scared – of them and of missing a single rehearsal.

    Like

  26. Truth Prevail permalink
    April 1, 2013 5:36 pm

    Who’s decision was it to have the kids testify?

    Like

  27. April 1, 2013 11:40 am

    Oh, I hear that CNN has chosen Diane Dimond as a commentator for the AEG trial. No surprises again. CNN has simply revealed what we could only guess at in the past – they have a tremendous agenda against Michael Jackson and always side with those who are more powerful in the game (the AEG Live owned by a billionaire is undoubtedly more powerful).

    CNN should have probably read this quote provided by Wiki from the article “Reporter on Jackson Case Quietly Ends Court TV Term” before taking such such a decision – Burt Kerns quoted here is no other but the author of tabloid television, the person who actually taught Diane Dimond all the tricks of tabloid journalism, only she went farther than her teacher:

    “Dimond worked as a corresponded and anchor for Court TV from 2000 to 2005 and was assigned to Jackson’s 2005 trial. Burt Kearns, former producer of Hard Copy commented on Dimond’s coverage, saying, “Throughout the recent investigation and trial, Diane acted more like a prosecutor than a reporter. But she doesn’t have the smarts of a Nancy Grace. She was a clown in the circus and played the role to the hilt. Her performance in the Jackson case probably ended her hopes of ever again being taken seriously as a journalist, but it did get her a book deal.” Dimond was fired from Court TV in August 2005 following Jackson’s acquittal.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Dimond

    So CNN has chosen a correspondent who already disgraced herself by a highly biased reporting during the 2005 trial. At that time her never-ending lies about Jackson and the trial earned her a dismissal from Court TV, and by choosing her now CNN is openly telling us that they simply want the same biased approach towards Jackson and his family. Their choice is a sort of an open declaration of their position to the public. Well, fine things we learn about CNN’s “objectivity”.

    P.S. I’ve learned of the news about Diane Dimond from the MJandJusticeforsome letter and agree with the author (except for the use of the word “ped-le” with MJ’s name). But the main idea is indisputable – watching CNN after that would be a simple waste of time and a way to poison one’s minds with irresponsible lies:

    SATURDAY, MARCH 30, 2013
    Open Letter to CNN: Diane Dimond

    Dear CNN,

    Michael Jackson’s fans are more than displeased with your choice of the “expert” commentator for the Jacksons v. AEG Live trial, Ms. Diane Dimond. As you are aware, the duty of a journalist is to seek the truth by providing a fair and comprehensive account of an event or issue. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility.

    Ms. Diamond’s lack of professional integrity is precisely what has marred her credibility. Michael Jackson himself filed a lawsuit for $100 million against Diane Dimond, for releasing a story that the Los Angeles District Attorney was reopening the 1993 child molestation case after a sex tape was found involving Jackson and his accuser. The DA immediately denied the story. The story was completely false.

    This is only one example of the clear bias Ms. Dimond holds against Michael Jackson. As you are well aware, journalists are not required to report their own opinion, but rather to report the truth to the public. Over a span of 20 years, Ms. Dimond has ridden on the coattails of Mr. Jackson, in the name of “fair and truthful” journalism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even in 2012, three years after Jackson’s death, when Jerry Sandusky was convicted of multiple child molestation counts, Ms. Dimond again refers to Michael Jackson as a pedophile, although he was acquitted of all charges.

    We, the below signed Michael Jackson fans, respectfully request that a fair, unbiased and credible journalist cover the Jacksons v. AEG Live trial. If you continue to use Diane Dimond as an “expert” on Michael Jackson, we plan on boycotting CNN, resulting in the loss of millions in viewership and subsequent advertising dollars.

    Sincerely, http://mjandjustice4some.blogspot.com.ar/2013/03/open-letter-to-cnn-diane-dimond.html

    Like

  28. March 31, 2013 11:44 pm

    “Here’s Diane Dimond giving her “analysis” of the upcoming AEG Civil trial! This is what you can expect to hear from her for the next few months!” – sanemjfan

    Diane Dimond behaves ugly as usual. But you know what? It is the first time I notice her to be nervous and not that confident any more.

    She also spoke about Michael’s “circumstances” in life that put much pressure on him. But Diane Dimond herself was Michael’s biggest “circumstance” that didn’t allow him to live a normal life. In contrast to Dimond Deborah Opri produces a good impression and looks much more professional. And she is right, what’s the point of making the children testify – what can they know about AEG hiring or not hiring Murray? AEG is simply taking advantage of the most vulnerable and shows itself at its ugliest.

    Dimond constantly stresses that “there was no contract with Murray” and he wasn’t paid a penny. But these are half-truths only – recently AEG admitted they paid $150,000 to Murray and as regards the contract it was signed by Murray but not signed by AEG Live and Jackson. But if the contract was not signed why did AEG Live pay him then?

    And if it was Michael Jackson who invited Murray why didn’t he sign the contract? The AEG were late with it again? They started with their contract on May 1st and still were not ready by end of June?

    So they were taking care of some doctor’s contract for 2 months, but wanted Michael to confirm the schedule of concerts on the telephone and within 20 minutes only though it was the basis of the whole tour?

    Like

  29. sanemjfan permalink
    March 31, 2013 10:30 pm

    Here’s Diane Dimond giving her “analysis” of the upcoming AEG Civil trial! This is what you can expect to hear from her for the next few months! 😦

    Like

  30. March 31, 2013 9:38 pm

    Below is some news about Paris Jackson’s deposition. The article also says that this AEG beast is going to bring up the “molestation” issues of the 2005 case. What an animal.

    Interesting that some people now call Katherine responsible for AEG bringing this issue up. The logic is evidently as follows – the victim who got murdered in the park is responsible for his own murder because he went to the park. The innocent murderer is not to blame, he was simply tempted to kill:

    Paris Jackson ‘Impressed Lawyers’ At Her Deposition For Dad Michael’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit
    Posted on Mar 26, 2013 @ 14:13PM | By jenheger

    Pacific Coast News/FameFlynet Inc.

    Even though Paris Jackson is only a teenager, she managed to impress lawyers at her deposition in the Michael Jackson wrongful death lawsuit that her grandmother, Katherine, filed against concert promoter AEG, RadarOnline.com is exclusively reporting.

    Katherine contends that AEG should be held accountable for her son’s death because they were responsible for hiring Dr. Conrad Murray to be his physician during his tour.

    “Paris impressed all of the lawyers involved with her professionalism and demeanor during her deposition last week,” a source tells Radar. “Her older brother, Prince, had a rough time during his depo a week earlier, so allowances were made to make sure it didn’t happen again. That’s why Katherine’s lawyers demanded that Paris’ deposition take place at the courthouse so the judge could intervene if it appeared to be getting too tough for her. Luckily it didn’t come to that. Paris will have to sit for another day of questioning but she is okay with that – she is an extremely intelligent, compassionate and thoughtful young lady.”

    As previously reported, Prince plans on testifying at the upcoming trial, which is expected to last three to four months.

    The judge is allowing AEG to bring up the molestation allegations that Jackson was accused of but never convicted over. Lawyers for the concert promoter want to revisit that dark time during Jackson’s life in an attempt to show jurors that was when he became depressed and dependent on drugs.

    However, a Jackson family insider has slammed the defendant’s decision to go down that road, predicting it’s a move that will ultimately backfire on them.

    “Michael was tortured in life and now AEG is trying to torture him in death. I predict they will be severely punished for it,” the source said.

    Katherine suffered a huge legal setback recently when a California court dismissed all but one of her claims against AEG and its president, Tim Leiweke.

    Attorneys filed legal documents with the Court of Appeal in California to dismiss that one claim – which centers on the question of whether AEG Live negligently hired Murray – however, last week, the Court of Appeal rejected their motion.

    Murray was convicted in 2011 for the involuntary manslaughter death of Michael after administering a fatal dose of propofol to help the pop singer sleep.

    The disgraced doctor hadn’t formally signed his employment contract with AEG at the time of Michael’s death, and they maintain that they aren’t responsible for his tragic death.

    Jury selection is expected to begin on April 2.

    AEG didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

    http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2013/03/paris-jackson-dad-michael-deposition-wrongful-death-lawsuit/

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  31. March 31, 2013 12:51 am

    “Regarding the possible outcome of the trial I already came to the same conclusion. Compared to the Murray trial, where the guilt of the defendant was so obvious and we were quite sure about the decision, this time it looks rather hopeless, as there is only one claim left – “Negligent hiring, supervision and training” of Conrad Murray. So it’s again only about Murray, and the relevant questions about the connections of the “Big Three” could be dismissed again. But I still hope that their unscrupulousness will at least become obvious to the public to recognize their moral guilt.”

    Susanne, you’ve said it so well. Let’s hope that the truth will find a way. The more they try to supress it the worse it is. Even the example of Walgren and the Judge blocking every question about Tohme is both dramatic and comic simultaneously. When it was happening during the trial I was extremely angry with them, but now see that it is only for the better. This way they themselves told us what they tried to conceal most. Our authorities also make this mistake all the time.

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  32. March 31, 2013 12:42 am

    “It took me some time to read it.”

    Susanne, I am sorry it is so long. The text itself is not that big but I have to quote almost full articles for fear that they might disappear.

    I have good news today – it seems that my internet provider is no longer blocking wordpress and I’ve managed to enter the blog the usual way. Hopefully our authorities have realized that they only made themselves look ridiculous by blocking 10,000 bloggers at once and for no reason at all. Bloggers will still find a way and all the discussion of it will make things only worse.

    Like

  33. susannerb permalink*
    March 30, 2013 3:07 pm

    Helena, again great work. It took me some time to read it. Everything is very logical and matches.
    Regarding the possible outcome of the trial I already came to the same conclusion. Compared to the Murray trial, where the guilt of the defendant was so obvious and we were quite sure about the decision, this time it looks rather hopeless, as there is only one claim left – “Negligent hiring, supervision and training” of Conrad Murray. So it’s again only about Murray, and the relevant questions about the connections of the “Big Three” could be dismissed again.
    But I still hope that their unscrupulousness will at least become obvious to the public to recognize their moral guilt.

    Like

  34. chantal canales permalink
    March 28, 2013 9:01 pm

    Thank you.

    Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2013 15:13:03 +0000
    To: chantal-canales@hotmail.fr

    Like

  35. March 28, 2013 7:18 pm

    Guys, this is a rough variant only. This is the most I could post after a (literally) tenth attempt. My computer keeps throwing me out of the blog and everything is gone. I will check the text at the first opportunity. Please give me some time to adjust it.

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