Michael Jackson’s estate reportedly nearing landmark catalogue sale

Sources say the sale could be worth more than £700million

According to new reports, the estate of late pop icon Michael Jackson could be nearing a deal to sell half of its ownership in his musical catalogue.

As reported by Variety, the prospective deal would see the buyer acquire 50 per cent of the estate’s interest in Jackson’s publishing catalogue, revenue streams generated by his recorded music, the upcoming Michael biopic, the Broadway production MJ: The Musical, and potentially even more.

Parties interested in the sale were kept anonymous, though one financial source reportedly told Variety that Primary Wave Music – which recently acquired an exhaustive slate of rights to The Doors’ material and income – already owns a stake in the rights to Jackson’s catalogue.


Should this new deal go ahead, three independent sources reportedly told Variety that it will carry a precedent-setting price tag of $800-900million (£664-747million), making it the most expensive rights acquisition in modern music history.

Sony have held the rights to Jackson’s catalogue for much of his life and posthumously, with his longtime attorney Branca and co-executor John McClain managing the interests of his estate.

In 2016, the company reached a deal with the estate to purchase its 50 per cent stake in the Sony/ATV Music Publishing venture (launched in 1995) for $750million (£622million). Sony also acquired the Jackson estate’s 25.1 per cent stake in EMI Music Publishing when it acquired the company in 2018.

Despite recent controversies, Jackson’s catalogue remains one of the most financially lucrative; Forbes has consistently ranked him as one of the highest-earning dead celebrities in its annual reports, and in 2018, reported that his posthumous earnings had accumulated to $2.4billion (£1.99billion).

1982’s ‘Thriller’ remains Jackson’s highest-selling album, being certified Diamond three times each in the US and Canada – as well as once each in France and Germany – and racking up another 57 Platinum certifications elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Dan Reed – the director of the controversial documentary Leaving Neverland, which explored child sex abuse allegations made against Jackson – has criticised the making of a new biopic about the artist’s life. In an interview, Reed opined that the film “will glorify a man who raped children”.

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