2009: This Is It – Kenny Ortega
The trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor has come to the conclusion that Dr Conrad Murray was guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The New York Times suggests that Dr Murray acted improperly for a qualified doctor and the prosecution in the case have suggested that his motives were somewhat suspicious.
Michael Jackson is one of those celebrities that generates a huge amount of media coverage, it seems that everyone has an opinion about him. Whilst the media will on occasion report how isolated some celebrities become, few really do much thorough analysis. His website has over 40m Facebook “likes”.
To my mind, it would appear that Michael Jackson was bereft of good advice. Quite apart from a bizarre personal life which like many other “icons” will continue to generate questions and supposition, by people that were not “there” and of course he is unable to answer any accusations. You might recall that Vincent Van Gogh experts Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith  recently stated that they believe that Van Gogh did not commit suicide, but was accidently shot by two young boys and he didn’t want them to get into trouble. Anyway, it seems that Michael Jackson did not receive very helpful advice and there were plenty of people willing to help part him from his money.
It is somewhat shocking that a man that sold millions of records was $400,000 in debt at the point of his death, according to the New York Times. He was working on a new Tour which would help revitalise his career and reduce his debts. Apparently exhausted, he employed Dr Murray at $150,000 a month  that’s $1.8m a year (remember Jackson was in huge debt at the time) as his personal physician. Dr Murray then dismissed his other clients (patients) and solely took care of Jackson. A problem surely – even to an untrained eye.
As a result of his death, record sales and tribute concerts have helped to swell the funds in his estate, The New York Times, puts this figure at $310,000 – still leaving a deficit of $90m by my maths. Somehow the estate has managed to pay out $30m to the beneficiaries (40% his mother, 40% his children and 20% to charity). I’m not clear how it is possible to pay $30m from minus $90m. Perhaps it has been helped by the huge reduction in overspending (estimated at $30m a year of overspending) and rising revenue from record sales.
I wonder what Michael Jackson might have achieved had he benefited from good advice and some great financial planning? Surely any good adviser would have challenged the sustainability of his spending patterns. Perhaps like many other celebrities, he was constantly told things he wanted to hear, rather than what he needed to hear and perhaps he ended up feeling unable to know who he could really trust. This is a real problem for those with significant wealth – when others depend upon it, their “advice” is perhaps less than entirely honest. A good financial planner will be very clear about their charges and their advice, importantly they need to be able to bring good news and bad. To genuinely care is to help protect you from yourself. This is a key part of what I do for clients and also embedded within my investment philosophy.
As for Michael Jackson, well he had something to say about isolation, the media and money.
They don’t care

They’d do me for the money
They don’t care
They use me for the money


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