New York Times Dissecting Jackson’s Alleged Finances without Full Story – MB#307

MAY 13 2006 – When in hell did the amount of money Michael Jackson has in his pockets become a subject of superficial and allegedly in-depth discussion worthy of attention from the New York Times?

According to an article in the New York Times, carried by the International Herald Tribune, the media entity is trying to cover a story for which they can only get one side. Jackson obviously isn’t sharing any of his financial information with them, nor should he.

What’s incredibly lame about this latest round of regurgitated assumptions is that the NYT has chosen to cover it when lesser-respected news outlets have already covered and re-covered….and re-covered it. Instead, they choose to focus on the speculation-laden details from “sources” and the sensationalized wishes of those who would like to see Jackson’s financial downfall come to pass. I’m shocked! Not.

What we don’t get from the NYT are in-depth reports about the very many stories which remain unreported surrounding the 2005 trial. In need of a lead?

Here’s one: Do an exposé into the history of the Santa Barbara County DA’s office; members of which are scheduled to go on trial in August 2006 to defend themselves against various misconduct allegations involving an attorney they failed to win a conviction against (see Gary Dunlap radio interview Jan 2004 ).

Anyway, let’s get back to dissecting what they did decide to report. As always with these kinds of one-sided reports, Jackson is portrayed as an irresponsible, spoiled, “pensive” know-nothing, who acts like a dumb little boy needing a lecture from his father about the importance of a dollar.

It’s a rather shallow and asinine view of his role in his financial picture. His money, by the way, has been rightfully earned by him and he should be able to use it however he sees fit.

However, this brings up inevitable questions like why the hell is it the NYT’s business how much money Jackson has in his coffers? Why are some media entities acting as if Jackson is supposed to get approval of his financial plans before he decides on how to spend the money he’s earned? Shouldn’t it be Jackson’s decision how much he chooses to work?

More importantly, if I can barely afford to keep my gas tank filled, what the hell is it supposed to mean to me that Jackson had financial problems? To put it succinctly, so f_cking what?

In the general media’s lame-assed and ever-expanding quest to forecast Jackson’s financial downfall, articles filled with speculative guesses about his plans often pop-up after major moves he’s decided to take. He has brought on new and potentially powerful management, and restructured his finances in the wake of a slew of crooks which were reportedly diverting/siphoning/stealing his money, usurping his power, and using their connection to him for their own financial purposes without his permission.

At one point, ex-employees had gained Jackson’s power-of-attorney. So, it’s a wonder he still has a dime to his name. And, Jackson is currently counter-suing at least one ex-employee, Marc Schaffel, for engaging in fraud.

Reportedly, after Schaffel was booted from Jackson’s team, he misrepresented himself as affiliated with Jackson and proceeded to screw a Japanese company, Music Fighters, out of a million dollars: a “fee” of $500,000 and another $500,000 for “expenses”.

The article “Jackson counter sues former aid” (Oct 27 2005), cites information from Jackson’s counter-suit:

Schaffel “concealed funds, comingled funds, misappropriated funds, charged expenses for matters un-related to the agreement, provided false books of account and … wrongfully profited,” the cross-complaint alleges.
 
Jackson also claims Schaffel kept $US250,000 in sculptures and paintings from artist Romero Britto in 2003 that were supposed to be delivered to the pop star.

While the NYT mentions Schaffel’s lawsuit against Jackson, they make no mention of any substantial details of Jackson’s counter-claims against him. They, instead, prefer to simply blame Jackson’s reported spending habits for almost all of any financial “trouble” he may have found himself in, without offering more than a superficial overview of the mishandling and misappropriation of his finances by those who once controlled it.

 

__G’it yo’ hand outta my pocket! __

At least one attorney once associated with Jackson, David LeGrand, was suspicious enough of the intentions or past actions of the people around Jackson to start multiple investigations into some of them.

As reported in an extensive MJEOL Bullet (#288), LeGrand’s testimony during the 2005 Jackson trial was explosive to say the least. About Jackson’s “people”, he testified that “it seems everybody wanted to try to benefit from Mr. Jackson in one way or another” (Court Transcript, pg 10046 lines 1-3). This wasn’t an exaggeration.

LeGrand — a former enforcement attorney, assistant county prosecutor, and investigator of violations related to state Securities laws – was initially hired by Jackson to “developing a new team for cash management, accounting, bookkeeping and new lawyers with respect to creative elements” (Courtroom Transcript, p 10003, lines 8-10).

While he was gathering info about Jackson’s financial picture, his suspicions were ignited and he started investigations into {tag Dieter Wiesner} and {tag Ron Konitzer} — “the two Germans” who were once in control of Jackson’s business affairs — along with Shaffel and John Branca.

LeGrand said he once requested an accounting for some funds belonging to Jackson for tax documentation purposes, and he noticed that almost a million dollars had gone to Wiesner and Konitzer which was unaccounted for. From LeGrand’s May 12 2005 testimony:

LEGRAND: …I ultimately wrote a letter within, you know, a couple of days of learning of this. I wrote a letter to Mr. Konitzer asking him to account for this money.
 
MESEREAU: Was the amount you were concerned about approximately $965,000? …
 
LEGRAND: Yes, the amount — the aggregate amount of disbursements that I set forth in that letter was $965,000.
 
MESEREAU: And where did that amount come from, if you remember?
 
LEGRAND: I believe the source of that funds was the FOX — some of the FOX payments with regard to the “Take 2” video production.
 
MESEREAU: Did you ever get a response to your expression of concern?
 
LEGRAND: Yes. …
 
MESEREAU: Why did you think Konitzer and Weizner had diverted $965,000 from Mr. Jackson?
 
LEGRAND: Because the report I got from this other lawyer showed those disbursements.
 
MESEREAU: And when you saw the record of those disbursements, what did you do?
 
LEGRAND: I spoke to several of the other lawyers that were representing Mr. Jackson, and agreed that I should write a letter to Mr. Konitzer asking him to account.
(Courtroom Transcripts, pg 10008-10009 lines 25-28, 1-8; 10011 lines 6-15)

As a matter of fact, LeGrand testified that the men in charge of overseeing Jackson’s business affairs lacked the sophistication to do so. According to LeGrand, his opinions were solidified when he saw a document from Konitzer claiming to detail Jackson’s business structure. From his testimony:

LEGRAND: …I found this document to be somewhat disturbing. It seemed amateurish. You know, I already had misgivings about Mr. Konitzer’s sophistication and capabilities, and this document simply reinforced those concerns. (pg 10060 lines 19-23)

Some observers, however, openly suggested, back then, that a lack of specifics often is an illustration of people wanting to hide something. Whether their actions under Jackson’s employ was the result of incompetence or illegalities hasn’t been addressed publicly yet.

Another element to this was John Branca, which some of the public recently found out had a percentage stake in the Sony/ATV catalog himself. Reportedly, Branca was working for both Sony and Jackson. Talk about a conflict of interest! LeGrand testified that someone found out about an offshore account reportedly involving Branca and Sony. Branca was involved in the original merger of Sony/ATV.

While on the stand, LeGrand was asked by Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau whether he was concerned that this offshore account in the Carribean was set up to “funnel money” by people in charge of Jackson’s financial affairs in an effort to defraud Jackson. The prosecution, of course, objected to that question, but questioning continued. From the testimony:

MESEREAU: Why did you investigate Mr. Branca?
 
LEGRAND: I requested — well, let me back up. After consultation with my partner, Mr.Gibson, and discussion with I believe Mr. Joss at Paul Hastings, Mr. Gibson and I instructed the firm Interfor to investigate Mr. Branca, because Mr.Konitzer had indicated in several conversations that he was very concerned about Mr. Branca and that Mr. Jackson had expressed concern about Mr. Branca’s loyalty. Also, there was — Mr. Schaffel related information that also was negative of Mr. Branca. So we made collectively the decision to ask Interfor to further the background investigation, to conduct investigation into Mr. Branca.
 
MESEREAU: But at the time, Konitzer didn’t know that you were also investigating him, right?
 
LEGRAND: That’s correct.
 
MESEREAU: At the time, Schaffel didn’t know you were also investigating Schaffel, right? LEGRAND: That’s correct.
 
MESEREAU: At the time, Weizner didn’t know you were also investigating Weizner, right? …
 
LEGRAND: That’s correct. We did not inform them of the scope of — the full scope of Interfor’s actions at our request. (Courtroom Transcripts, pg 10210-10211 lines 7-28, 1-2, 6)

I would have thought this information could be very important to understanding Jackson’s current financial picture. I suppose it’s not interesting enough to be included in the NYT’s rehash of financial “demise”. Oh, woe is me!

But since the NYT isn’t in a hurry to report on such complex issues, let’s keep going with what was brought out in court in 2005. Jackson’s attorney Mesereau didn’t stop there. He continued to ask LeGrand about a report he receive from a firm investigating John Branca and others. More from the transcript:

MESEREAU: And the investigator’s report indicated it appeared that Sony was involved in that account, right?
 
LEGRAND: The investigator’s report indicated that Sony had transferred money to the account. MESEREAU: Sony had transferred money to that account for the benefit of Mr. Jackson’s lawyer, right?
 
LEGRAND: That’s what was indicated in the report. …
 
MESEREAU: You investigated Mr. Branca because, in your words, you thought he was involved in self-dealing, right? …
 
LEGRAND: Again, you know, I want to be clear. I consulted with my partner and, you know, other lawyers, and we collectively made a decision to — that it was prudent to have our investigator look into the possibility of such actions being taken by Mr. Branca.
(p 10214-10215 lines 8-15, 22-28, 1-5)

And further, the name Tommy Mottola comes up in relation to rumors of defrauding Jackson. More from the testimony:

MESEREAU: Isn’t it true that you were trying to investigate offshore accounts owned by Branca and someone named Tommy Motolla?
 
LEGRAND: Yes.
 
MESEREAU: Who was Tommy Motolla?
 
LEGRAND: He was a very powerful figure in the record industry at one time. I believe he was the president of the Sony Entertainment Division in the U.S. I’m not sure of his exact title or position.
 
MESEREAU: Were you concerned that Tommy Motolla and Mr. Jackson’s lawyer, John Branca, were working together to defraud Michael Jackson? …
 
LEGRAND: Based on the suspicions that were expressed to me and my partner, we asked Interfor to look into these rumors.
(pg 10217 lines 10-21, 25-27)

So something screwy was happening with more than a couple of people who had access in some way to Jackson’s finances. Thus, even if one wants to believe that Jackson was ever “on the verge of bankruptcy”, it’s safe to say that he damn sure didn’t get there by himself, like the majority of the NYT article suggests with their talk of his lavish spending.

 I don’t think I’m breaking news here, but guess what? Rich people buy stuff. Period. His lifestyle appears to be no more lavish than anyone else who is worth hundreds of millions (if not a billion) dollars.

Investigative reporting about these facts conveniently got left out of that NYT ‘we-know-it-all’ article, which to some seems more “shameful” rather than pathetic, like when other news outlets do it.

__Trying too hard to draw a conclusion?__
Then there are just things in the article which do not make sense. The writer cites a prosecution contention that Jackson had “unpaid tax claims of $150 million”.

In what world does any government let anyone get away with not paying a tax bill of $150 million?! Maybe it was the way it was worded which has caused many to question that statement. Maybe the NYT simply didn’t think to question such a statement? Or maybe they simply have their facts wrong?

On a lighter note, the writer cites Jackson’s alleged costly demands to promote “compilations of previously released material” in a failed effort to illustrate how Jackson supposedly wanted to spend money on old material. And, how that alleged behavior had allegedly contributed to his financial troubles.

However, the writer cites the HIStory CD and its promotion as an example of a costly “compilation of previously released material”! I suppose the fact that HIStory was a 2 cd set — the main CD filled with new material– escaped the writer’s attention. What also got overlooked in the article is the fact that HIStory was Jackson’s fastest selling album and contained the first song by any artist to ever debut at #1, You Are Not Alone , on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

So Jackson’s promotional spending wasn’t all for naught. Not to mention, the HIStory album generated some of the most visually beautiful and influential videos ever created by Jackson including Scream, You Are Not Alone, Stranger in Moscow, Childhood, Earth Song, and They Don’t Care About Us. All of them new songs at the time, by the way. And why shouldn’t he have promoted his music as he saw fit? He’s the artist, its music created by him and that promotion obviously worked as he was making Sony a truck-load of money in worldwide sales.


__Jackson as ‘human being’__

I’ve written about this before, but Jackson appears to be, to some, a ‘subject’; an inanimate object whose life is to be dissected. This appears to be the reason why the public sees such one-sided and often questionable reporting about his finances and his personal life, along with various pseudo-psychoanalyses from various people.

Some of these people who have offered up their analysis of Jackson’s financial picture reportedly have been the ones causing the problems, with their shady-as-hell and old fashioned thievery; robbing him blind until they were booted from the gravy train.

The last people I would go to for an objective view on Jackson’s finances would be people like Myung Ho Lee, the “source” of various reported falsities spread by Vanity Fair’s Maureen Orth. Can’t forget those voodoo curses and that cows’ blood! Just ask Richard Matsuura (video) about Myung Ho Lee’s credibility. Nor would I care for any analysis from Marc Schaffel, Mr. Gay Porn himself.

Schaffel has been sued repeatedly by many people he’s had dealings with and, according to some reports, has used different aliases in the past. Both Lee and Schaffel have sued and/or are suing Jackson for those millions they may claim he doesn’t have. And check out the hypocrisy in those actions!

You don’t sue people who are broke, because you won’t collect. So why would these people level all of these claims about Jackson owning them money (Schaffel) or not being responsible for his “dwindling” finances, all while suing him for millions of dollars? Maybe Jackson isn’t as broke or nearly as financially in trouble as they’ve lead the media to believe in their vain attempts to use that same media to possibly shame Jackson into a settlement? Maybe they don’t yet understand that Jackson appears to be quite pissed off is fighting anybody who is trying to take from him what doesn’t belong to them?

People do make mistakes. They do trust the wrong people sometimes. Jackson got screwed-over by a number of lame-assed advisers. But it isn’t uniquely a Jackson issue.

Regular folk get screwed-over every day. Putting Jackson’s spending habits and hiring practices into a vacuum, and not presenting additional information which may also affect the way a reader feels about the current situation (assuming they care), is simply unacceptable from the New York Times. Yeah sure. Like I’m going to believe that Jackson was in dire financial straits mostly because he bought one too many antiques or bought a Bentley when he should have bought a Toyota Camry. Please.

Income generated from specific, stable investments he’s made alone should have more than covered such expenses. That is….if money coming in belonging to him wasn’t being diverted into the various pockets of the people who were in control of handling his finances. And would the public know about any of the activities of a number of advisers had it not been addressed at the 2005 trial by at least one person, David LeGrand?

One person who was suspicious enough to open an investigation? It wouldn’t be a stretch to say we all probably wouldn’t know any of this if we had to depend on the New York Times for the information, that’s for damn sure. Whatever “financial hurdles” Jackson has faced, they were his to face. But hoping, praying and waiting for him to trip-up so they can feed their egos by being able to say ‘I told you so’ is hateful and ridiculous. After seeing previous reports, shallow too, about Jackson’s finances, this really doesn’t surprise me. It’s just absurd coming from the New York Times.

If the New York Times wants to forecast something, why don’t they forecast the demise of these high ass gas prices?

-MJEOL

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