One probably unintended consequence of Michael Jackson’s crusade against his record label is that it’s thrown a harsh spotlight onto his finances. Now that insiders saying that Jackson’s vendetta against Sony chief Tommy Mottola actually marks an effort to extricate himself from his record contract with the most generous possible settlement, various reports have suggested that Jackson is running low on dough. Evidence comes in the form of a lawsuit filed by former business manager Myung-Ho Lee, who says that Jackson owes him $13 million for his efforts in arranging some $200 million in loans for the King of Pop.
According to court documents obtained by FoxNews.com, Lee’s suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Jackson agreed to pay the fee at a Sept. 14 meeting in L.A. Jackson, however, has filed a sworn affidavit saying that the signature on the IOU is not his, and that he was en route from New York to Los Angeles that day. (Having just performed his 30th anniversary self-tribute concerts in New York a few days before, he fled the city in a rented vehicle on Sept. 11, with pals Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor reportedly along for the drive.) Two others in Jackson’s camp also signed statements backing up his assertion that he was out of town, and that the signature in question does not resemble Jackson’s.
”I specifically looked at the signature that appears at the end of this document above my typed name,” Jackson’s statement read. ”This is not my signature. I did not sign this document and have never seen [it] until a few weeks ago. I would never knowingly sign a document that expressly required me to pay over $13 million to Mr. Lee or anyone else, alone in a room and without review and counsel by one or more of my attorneys.”
But Jackson frequently makes business decisions without his attorneys, like hiring pal F. Marc Schaffel to produce the ”What More Can I Give” all-star charity single and video. (When Jackson’s advisers learned that Schaffel had a career as a director and producer of gay porn movies, they reportedly terminated Jackson’s business relationship with him and asked Sony to quash the song’s release.) Moreover, Jackson’s filings do not appear to dispute Lee’s other contentions — that he arranged hundreds of millions of dollars in loans for the singer over the last five years, and that Jackson went through the money rapidly, spending much of it on the high overhead he incurred with his Neverland ranch, his doctors and lawyers, and other expenses Lee has detailed in accounts-payable records he filed with his suit. Says Lee’s filing, ”Michael Jackson is — and was — a ticking financial time bomb waiting to explode at any moment.”