Michael Jackson Could Make A Lot Of Money

noah | March 6, 2009 11:00 am

‘s comeback/retirement tour—the kickoff of which was announced in London yesterday—could bring the cash-strapped singer as much as $400 million over the next four years, according to The Wall Street Journal‘s Ethan Smith. The deal struck between Jacko and concert promoters AEG Live covers travel across three continents—Europe, Asia, and North America—and the London dates alone could bring him a pretty penny.

Depending on how many dates he adds, Mr. Jackson’s take from the London concerts alone could be between $30 million and $50 million, according to people familiar with the matter. Tickets to the London performances are to go on sale, via an online lottery system at MichaelJacksonLive.com, next Wednesday for £50 ($70) to £75 ($105) each.

Mr. Jackson would then have the option to add more dates in Europe, Asia and finally North America. But he is not committed to play any shows beyond the original 10, and would in any event not reach the U.S. before 2011. “He has been the biggest star in the world and it’s time for him to get back on the stage,” said Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live.

People involved in the deal say that if Mr. Jackson decides to extend the tour, it would represent a significant step toward rehabilitating his shaky financial situation. His long-running legal saga drained much of his wealth. Mr. Jackson has borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars against his share of Sony/ATV Music Publishing — a joint venture with Sony Corp. — and other assets. Sony/ATV generates an estimated $300 million to $350 million a year in revenue, a small piece of which flows to Mr. Jackson in the form of dividends. In addition, Sony around three years ago arranged for a loan to Mr. Jackson by British banking giant Barclays PLC, backed by his share of the venture. As a result, he sees little direct income from the endeavour. A Sony spokeswoman declined to comment.

But if Mr. Jackson goes through with the full concert-tour plan, he could be in a position to make an offer for Sony’s share of Sony/ATV in about a year and a half, according to people close to the matter, under a buy-sell provision in the partnership agreement.

Of course, there are lots of gigantic question marks hovering over this whole enterprise—will the global slowdown result in people even wanting to pay upwards of $70 to see a fading pop star try and breathe some glory into his past moments? even though he passed a physical “with flying colors,” will his health support what looks to be a grueling trek around the world?—but the promise of making money off something other than his former possessions must have been powerful enough to push those questions aside. At least until the first date of the tour.

King of Pop Returns to the Stage [WSJ]