Michael Jackson’s Net Worth

Michael Jackson was worth $110 million when he died in 2009

Prepare to explore royalty. They don’t live like we do. Case in point: the King of Pop—Michael Jackson. Though he passed away in 2009, the effects of his career on the music industry are still keenly felt. Which is not a shock. The man was and always will be an icon. He has released some of the finest, most easily recognizable pop music ever, and his net worth, during his heyday, proves it.

Right at the top of his game, MJ’s bank balance was hitting $500 million, making him one of the richest musicians ever! Despite his riches, Michael nearly faced bankruptcy after borrowing $380 million just to keep up his flashy lifestyle. Moral of the story? You can never have TOO much money! (We’re kidding!). It does go to show that while money comes and go, the constant is Michael’s prodigious talent. He was blessed with a sensational voice, killer dance moves, and onstage charm at a very young age; that voice and charm, and those moves stayed with him right until the end.

While his career was the stuff of dreams, his personal life was, at times, the stuff of nightmares. But we’ll get to that. So sit back and enjoy our exploration of one of the most entrancing careers in pop music: Michael Jackson.

NameMichael Joseph Jackson
ProfessionSinger-Songwriter, Actor, Dancer, Music Producer
Net Worth$110 when he dies in 2009 (and $500 million at the height of his career)
BirthplaceGary, Indiana, USA
BirthdayAugust 29, 1958 (Virgo)
DiedJune 25, 2009
Height5 ft. 9 in. (175 cm)
Relationship statusDivorced (at the time of his death)

From 5 to 1: Michael Jackson’s Early Career and Breakthrough

Despite becoming royalty, Michael Jackson actually came from unspectacular roots, born as No. 8 in a sprawling family of 10 kids in Gary, Indiana. His old man operated cranes and his mom was a devout homemaker. They say he took his baby steps towards fame when he was only five and started jamming with his brothers in their band, which eventually morphed into the worldwide sensation, the Jackson 5.

The family band debuted at the ’69 Miss Black American Pageant. The event was televised and afforded its viewers a chance to see Michael along with brothers Tito, Marlon, Jackie, and Jermaine, play a rockin’ cover of “It’s Your Thing”. Soon after, in December of the same year, their first record Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5 went gangbusters, and the track “I Want You Back” zoomed straight to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Michael wasn’t about to rest on his laurels though. At just 13, he decided to fly solo and dropped his premiere album Got to Be There. The fans went wild for the title track. MJ’s next record Ben landed him his first-ever #1 single as a solo artist. Michael was shaking up the industry with his fresh face and soaring voice, and audiences—especially young women—couldn’t get enough. On the heels of Music and Me and Forever, Michael, his Motown Records journey wrapped up.

Indeed his time with Motown had ended but that was just one small leg of his immense journey. As the new decade dawned, MJ brought out Off The Wall and then, Thriller, and that’s when EVERYTHING changed.

Dancing to the Tune of Millions: Revenues from Jackson’s Music Career

Very quickly MJ was a legend in his own league. He released Off The Wall in 1979 and garnered fame with the Grammy Award–winning single “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” and “Rock with You”. Perhaps more important than its music, the album brought together Michael and producer Quincy Jones, who would work with Michael throughout his career. With Jones in place, Jackson was ready to conquer the world. But first, he had to be a “triumph” (and then claim “victory”, but we’ll get to that).

Though he had begun a solo career, Michael was still working with his brothers. Their 1980 album Triumph sold one million albums, no doubt fueled by the success of their lead singer’s burgeoning solo efforts. The Jackson 5 would tour extensively in support of Triumph before getting to work on what would be their final album together: 1984’s Victory. Bolstered by the single “State of Shock”—a duet between Michael and Mick Jagger—the album performed incredibly well and was supported by another world tour.

But nothing could compare to the achievement that was—and still is—Thriller. Every song could be a single, such was the quality and mass appeal of the record. Beyond the title track, it featured “PYT”, “Billie Jean”, “Beat It”, “Human Nature”, and more. It sold more than 67 million units worldwide.

Michael answered the question “How do you follow up an album as successful as Thriller?” with Bad in 1987. The album, though not as huge as Thriller, still did well, with five #1 hits: “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, “Bad”, “The Way You Make Me Feel”, “Man in the Mirror”, and “Dirty Diana”.

Dangerous, his eighth solo album, came out in 1991 (his first without Quincy Jones) and featured the track “Black or White”, with its state-of-the-art music video that was over 11 minutes in length and ended with a scene in which Michael gesticulates provocatively while smashing up a car long after the song had stopped playing.

Diversifying the Beat: Jackson’s Alternative Revenue Streams

One of Jackson’s more astute business moves was acquiring the ATV Music publishing catalog in 1985. Why was this so astute? Well, it happened to include 250 Beatles songs. He put down $47.5 million to get his hands on that. Just a decade later, Sony wanted in on the action, so Michael agreed to a 50-50 deal by selling them half of the catalog for $90 million. Sony/ATV became half Michael, half Sony and all genius.

Now, the Sony/ATV cat is top-dog in the music publishing world. Think half a million hits from heavyweights like Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and Eminem. This mighty collection of music royalties pumped MJ’s net worth into the stratosphere.

Michael also made some savvy moves and pocketed some dough from endorsements and world tours. In 1983, Pepsi paid him $5 million for a single ad campaign; later, he managed to pull in a cool $10 million. Not to mention, he signed some tasty deals with heavy-hitters like Suzuki, Sony, and L.A. Gear back in the day.

Apart from his tunes and ads, Jackson found other clever ways to cash in on his massive fame. Did you know he started his own music studio, MJJ Productions, in 1991? Just another way Michael stacked up his savings and showed off his entrepreneurial spirit.

Lifestyle of The King: Jackson’s Notable Possessions and Philanthropy

Hot on the heels of MJ’s mega pop-star status, he lived a life of total jaw-dropping luxury.

We’ll start with the big one: Neverland Ranch. Michael picked up this gem for $20 million back in ’87. This fairy-tale sweet spot was tucked neatly in the dreamy Santa Ynez Valley and was the ultimate playground.

Jackson’s garage wasn’t too shabby, either. A 1996 Seagrave Pumper Fire Truck ($360,000), a cute as heck Dodge Viper Mini-Car ($66,000), and the stately 1999 Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph ($220,000). And while we can’t recall any photos of Jackson actually driving these cars himself (he was usually pictured being chauffeured), the collection must make for a fun stop on the Neverland tour.

MJ had a thing for art, and he wasn’t shy about it! From paintings of himself as his favorite fairy-tale characters, his passion for the arts ran deep.

The heart of this pop king, however, also knew how to share his wealth with his kingdom. Back in ’84, he donated $1.5 million he scored from Pepsi to the Michael Jackson Burn Center for Children. In 1986 he set up the Michael Jackson United Negro College Fund Endowed Scholarship Fund. Plus, in ’92, he launched the Heal The World Foundation, which played a part in several causes, from drug and alcohol education to dumping heaps of supplies into war-torn Sarajevo.

Behind The Scenes: A Glimpse Into Michael Jackson’s Personal Life

Michael was one of 10 kids in the Jackson clan, which was enmeshed in the music business. Each one of his brothers and sisters—Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Randy, and of course, Janet—made waves of their own in the industry, whether as part of the Jackson 5 or on their own.

In his lifetime, MJ got married twice. First wife was Lisa Marie Presley (herself a part of music royalty as the daughter of Elvis) from ’94 to ’96, and then Debbie Rowe from ’96 to ’99. He also became a dad to three kids: Prince, Paris, and Bigi.

Beyond family, MJ had a rather star-studded social circle. His friendship with the amazing Diana Ross was something special, and they even shared screen space in The Wiz, a Wizard of Oz film adaptation released in 1977 and directed by Sidney Lumet.

He was also friends with Macaulay Culkin, whom you can see in the video for “Black or White”. It’s no surprise the two were friends, given they are both more than familiar with working in showbiz from a very early age.

Headlines and Heartaches: Major Events in Michael Jackson’s Life

Jackson’s life was controversial right up until the day he died in June 2009. He was just 50 years old when he passed away from an overdose of propofol. The doctor who was administering the cocktail of sedatives, it was revealed in court, was not licensed to perform much of what he was doing for/to Michael, who was using prescription drugs to help his insomnia. Consequently, Dr. Conrad Murray was sentenced to a maximum four years in jail for involuntary manslaughter.

Michael himself came under close scrutiny in ’93 when he was in the hot seat about a child molestation case involving 13-year-old James Safechuck. There was lots of investigating but no concrete proof was found at his Neverland ranch or his LA condo. Still, his reputation walked the high-wire for a while longer.

In 2003, MJ was back in the spotlight, but not for his music. He was accused of child molestation again, this time by a boy named Gavin Arvizo from a Martin Bashir documentary. The scandal resulted in a full-blown trial, but in 2005, MJ was cleared of all charges.

And then there was that jaw-dropper when MJ, despite living large (or rather, because of it), went bankrupt after trying to borrow $380 million from the Bank of America to keep up his high-rolling lifestyle. Whichever debts Michael still had following his death were settled when his estate sold off his shares of the ATV/Sony catalog.