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Friday, June 26, 2009

AEG Left With Hefty Debt in Wake of Michael Jackson Death

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 9:26 AM

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The thing about irony is that its timing is always impeccable. Last night I got the new issue of Rolling Stone, which had a front of the book article on "Inside Michael Jackson's Troubled London Comeback" about the performances scheduled to happen next month. Before the singer's unexpected death yesterday, though, there was already concern over whether the King of Pop would make his dates. According to writer Fred Goodman, concert promoter AEG Live (which locally books the Warfield and Regency Ballroom) was banking on a Jackson comeback; the company was apparently so confident that president Randy Phillips told Rolling Stone that AEG advanced Jackson $5 million to "settle a British lawsuit" by the son of the king of Bahrain, who claims the singer stiffed him on promised performances and projects. It sounds like AEG also held the tab for an estate in Kent where Jackson was supposed to stay while in England, as well as the enormous cost of "organizing and mounting the show." The magazine reported another bummer for AEG: at press time, the concert promotions giant "had difficulty fully insuring itself against a cancellation" not to mention it owns the London 02 arena, where Jackson was supposed to perform and whose seats it desperately needs to keep full.

With the headlining act now deceased, and 50 shows worth of refunds to now distribute, the unavoidable question from the concert industry angle is how AEG will handle losing such a huge financial bet.

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Ian S. Port

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