LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — For all of his fame and wealth, Michael Jackson was mired in debt and spending millions more than he earned, a financial expert testified Monday.
Forensic accountant William Ackerman was called to testify by attorneys for concert promoter AEG Live in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the late singer’s family.
According to Ackerman’s testimony, the singer, who owned half of a music catalog valued at an estimated $2 billion, was in financial trouble in the decade before his death.
“The man spent more than he brought in,” Ackerman testified, producing a graph that contrasted how much Jackson brought in yearly with how much he spent from 2001 to 2009.
“On an annual basis (he was) spending 15 to 20 million dollars a year more than he brought in,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman went on to testify that the majority of Jackson’s earnings went towards paying off the singer’s debt. According to Ackerman, Jackson was paying close to $30 million in interest the year that he died.
“He was tapped out,” Ackerman said, testifying that no one would lend Jackson any more money.
Asked how much Jackson would have spent to support his mother and three children had he lived another 15 years, Ackerman testified that the singer would have spent close to $21.5 million.
But upon cross-examination, Ackerman testified Michael Jackson’s debt did not increase in the last three years of his life.
The singer’s financial situation, including the potential gains he stood to make from the ill-fated ‘This Is It’ tour, have been among the central questions in the wrongful death lawsuit.
On July 15, an expert testifying for the Jackson family said the singer’s death had caused a loss of income estimated between $1.1 to $1.5 billion, earned from 37 months of touring, along with merchandise, endorsements, and royalties from a Las Vegas show.
Attorneys for the concert promoter presented conflicting documents prepared by AEG Live that estimated Jackson would earn $132 million for 186 shows, far less than the expert for the Jackson family had estimated in his testimony.
Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, alleged executives at AEG were negligent when they hired Dr. Conrad Murray to look after the singer during the ‘This Is It’ concert tour. AEG denies any wrongdoing and maintains the doctor was brought on at Jackson’s request.
Murray was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter after giving the singer an overdose of the anesthetic propofol.