FORESEEABLE MONETIZATION OF MICHAEL JACKSON’S ASSETS AFTER DEATH: HOW TO VALUE COPYRIGHTS OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS AND RIGHTS OF PUBLICITY
By Jaime B. Herren, Esq.* and Matthew B. Talbot, Esq.**
Michael Jackson may still be the most recognizable celebrity on a worldwide scale and is now also known as the world’s highest paid dead celebrity. Before he died, Jackson was almost bankrupt, but was planning a comeback. Shortly after his death, the Co-Executors of his estate were able to monetize his intangible assets and greatly increase their value. Jackson’s Co-Executors valued his assets at the date of his death with a fairly low value. The Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") disagreed with the valuations and took the position that the Estate had undervalued Jackson’s assets by $1,100,000,000 on the Estate Tax Return. The I.R.S. also assessed penalties related to the alleged undervaluation. An epic tax battle ensued, ending with Tax Court Memorandum Opinion 2021-48, a 271-page opus filed on May 3, 2021 (the "Decision") by Judge Mark Holmes.