LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Michael Jackson’s accountant was back on the witness stand Tuesday in the Jackson family’s wrongful death trial against AEG Live. He said the singer brought in millions of dollars in revenue but had a hard time holding on to it.
Jackson turned songs to platinum, but jurors heard testimony from accountant Arthur Erk, a witness for the Jacksons, that the artist spent money faster than he made it and that Jackson was broke when he signed with AEG to stage his comeback tour.
Erk had testified that Jackson could have earned as much as $1.5 billion from the tour had he lived. AEG’s defense on Tuesday attacked Erk’s figures.
Jackson’s most popular tours — “Bad,” “Dangerous” and “History” — were performed over a 10-year span. Erk said the “This Is It” tour could sell out 260 concert dates over 37 months. Erk conceded that Jackson agreed to 50 shows, not 260.
About Jackson’s ability to fill concert venues, Erk had listed potential concert sites throughout the world. Under cross examination, he said he obtained his information from Wikipedia and did not know that a major sport site in India did not even allow concerts.
“It was a creation and a fabrication that was presented to the jury as an idea of what Mr. Jackson would have made, which was more than he made in his lifetime,” said AEG defense attorney Marvin Putnam.
The defense also raised questions about Jackson’s marketability after dangling his baby over a balcony and his molestation trial. Future earnings potential will be an issue for the jury only if they decide AEG is liable for the actions of Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray. The defense says Jackson’s debt must also be calculated too.
Jurors heard Tuesday that Jackson signed his tour agreement after borrowing all he could on what he owned, including his mother’s house, which was on the verge of foreclosure.
Accountant under fire by defense
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A former accountant for Michael Jackson was under fire by the AEG defense Wednesday during the Jackson family’s wrongful death trial. He said that Jackson could have earned more than a billion dollars by touring until he was 66.
How long did Michael Jackson plan to work? Paris Jackson yawns, and then offers two opinions in a video deposition shown to the jury by the defense.
“He still had a lot of music that he was still working on but he kind of needed to relax,” she said.
“So did your dad ever tell you he wasn’t going to tour anymore after the 02?” Paris was asked.
“Yeah,” she replied.
But later she was asked, “How did you understand it was a world tour?”
“Because he told us,” she replied.
“What did he tell you?”
“That we were going around the world on tour,” she said.
A worldwide tour or retirement? The star’s potential earnings were debated in court. Katherine Jackson says she and her three grandchildren are entitled to damages if the jury finds AEG tour promoters liable for the actions of Conrad Murray, the doctor who caused Jackson’s death.
AEG’s defense asserts that the $1.5 billion figure projected by certified public accountant Arthur Erk is inflated. Erk testified that Jackson would likely work beyond his contract deal for 50 shows at London’s O2 Arena and instead perform 260 shows, taking the show around the globe and selling out at every venue. But that’s not all.
Defense attorney Sabrina Strong showed Erk’s calculations for tours beyond that. That at age 56, Jackson would embark on four more world tours – a total of 455 shows – Jackson performing until he was 66 years old.
Strong questioned Erk: “Are you aware of any other artist doing five tours between age 50 and 66?”
“I did not consider that,” Erk replied.
Strong also questioned Erk’s numbers for what Jackson could make on endorsements for “This is It”: $317 million. Erk testified that the estimate was based on the sellout of 50 concerts within hours.
AEG’s defense team says that sponsors were wary of Jackson, who had been accused of criminal conduct and that as the show prepared to launch, the promoters did not have a single dollar in sponsorship or endorsements.
Jackson attorney Brian Panish reminded the jury that Jackson was acquitted of all charges, and like golfer Tiger Woods, could win back multi-million-dollar endorsement contracts.
About performing at age 66, Panish elicited examples of senior citizen stars Mick Jagger, age 69, and Barbara Streisand, age 71.
Meantime, Katherine Jackson is getting ready to testify this week in the wrongful death trial.