The Family Battle Over Michael Jackson’s Millions and His Three Children
As the never-ending soap opera known as the Jacksons plays out on television, radio, and Twitter, details being released bit by bit by police, friends, and family members seem to indicate a very ugly situation turning even uglier, with even the possibility of battery being involved—and the prospect of a court battle over guardianship of Michael Jackson’s three children.
A series of events suggest angst among Michael’s siblings over his will, which mostly leaves them in the cold, and a possible desire to muzzle his kids, notably 14-year-old Paris Jackson, who has been tweeting heavily about the reported disappearance of family matriarch Katherine Jackson—and raise the question of whether some siblings sent Katherine to Arizona for a “rest” so they can better control the situation.
Monday, just 24 hours after the news broke that Katherine Jackson was allegedly missing from her San Fernando Valley home, Los Angeles police were called yet again to the Jackson family compound after complaints of a fight among family members was phoned in. The scuffle appeared to involve Janet, Jermaine, and Randy Jackson, and their attempt take away the cellphones of the children of their late brother, Michael, according to television and news reports.
According to family members, the three siblings reportedly were upset by Paris’s continual tweets on the absence of her grandmother Katherine Jackson from the family home. Those close to the siblings say the three wanted to confiscate Michael’s children’s phones and discuss with them how all the tweeting was putting the entire family in a bad situation. The sources insist no one was trying to remove the children from their home as a publicity stunt.
“Janet really loves those kids as much as anyone, but feels they don’t understand the seriousness of what’s happening,” says a family member involved in the alleged altercation Monday. “She has a real motherly concern for them, but thinks they [have] too much control.”
A statement released by Katherine’s lawyers to the media Tuesday described what they say was Janet, Randy, and Jermaine’s attempt to remove the children of the late superstar from the family compound in Calabasas, Calif. “Yesterday afternoon certain Jackson family members ambushed Katherine Jackson’s home after their vehicle tore through security gates on the tails of an SUV containing Michael Jackson’s children. After exiting their vehicles, Jackson family members ran up to Michael’s kids as they yelled and began to aggressively grab at the cellphones in their hands.’’ However, Randy Jackson told the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC Tuesday afternoon that he and his siblings were simply attempting to reunite the children with their grandmother.
“They were attempting to have a conversation with Paris, and Paris didn’t want to hear it,” says a family member. “Janet is old school and feels children should listen to the adults in the family. Unfortunately, Paris didn’t see it that way.”
Just yesterday, Paris tweeted that she hasn’t seen her grandmother for nine days and said someone would pay for keeping her away from her Katherine.
Los Angeles sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said in a statement to the media Monday that no arrests were made after authorities visited the Jackson home at about 1 p.m. Monday. He said an investigation into the matter would try to determine if possible battery was involved.
Whitmore added that police also are investigating allegations that Katherine was being “emotionally and financially abused.” According to Whitmore, the abuse probe began in April, after an associate of the Jackson family reported the allegations to the police. Katherine has denied any abuse, according the police. The police did not indicate who may have been doing any abusing.
The nonstop drama and confusion at the Jackson home may be reaching a fever pitch this week, but it’s been long in the making, say close friends. They say the anger, friction, and desperation expressed by some family members regarding control and money spans back to well before Michael Jackson died in 2009.
“Michael didn’t spend a lot of time with his family for the last 20 years for a reason,” said a former business manager of the late superstar. “He only dealt with his mother, and that’s because she didn’t want anything from him. She was just his mother and only cared about him as her son. He also had a relationship with Tito and his three sons. Most of the rest of his family always wanted money or a handout of some sort, and that ate away at Michael for years. He finally just removed himself from the family for the most part.”
The former business manager told The Daily Beast that the negative experiences and feelings of being used over the years by many of his siblings that he says Michael felt are exactly why Jackson arranged for his will to provide for only his mother, three children, and charity. Tito’s three sons also were included in his will. Katherine Jackson has a 20 percent stake in what someone described as a nearly $1 billion estate left by Jackson, which many expect to continue to grow, much in the same way Elvis Presley’s fortune ballooned after he died. Michael did not include his father or his eight siblings.
“They (the family) can say it’s a fake will all they want, but Michael knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote that will the way he did,” said the former business manager. “He provided for who he intended to, and his siblings know that and have to accept that.”
But some family members wonder if the late King of Pop fully appreciated the difficult situation he’d be creating by cutting out the majority of his family from his will. They question whether he actually thought he’d die before his beloved mother or understood the tremendous stress his decisions would cause the 82-year-old. Friends say Katherine Jackson has been overwhelmed by the responsibilities and pressures of staying involved with his estate and caring for three minor children.
According to former employees of Michael Jackson and family members, during his lifetime, the King of Pop gave much in terms of financial support to his siblings (eight brothers and sisters), four with whom he began his singing career in Gary, Ind., during the 1960s. Jackie, Jermaine, Tito, and Marlon all performed with Michael in the Jackson 5 and continued to perform with him as the Jacksons after Jackie left the group and younger brother Randy joined. But Michael was always the undisputed star and eventually struck out on his own for even greater fame and fortune with albums such as Off the Wall and Thriller—the bestselling album of all time.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey the year after Michael’s death, Janet Jackson admitted that the family began to lose touch with Michael after the release and megasuccess of Thriller.
With the exception of Janet, who acquired her own superstar status and large fortune in the 1980s, the rest of the Jackson clan weren’t able to continue their success in the music world or in business ventures after their success during the ’70s.
“Many times, even if Michael didn’t want to give money, he would anyway to make his mother happy,” said his former business manager. “She worried about her other children having to struggle so much, given they were never prepared to do anything but perform. Michael didn’t like his mother worried, so he would give and give more.”
Friends say a few of the Jackson siblings took advantage of Katherine Jackson’s kindhearted nature as well as her close relationship with her superstar son. They’d ask their mother to ask Michael for more and more money when their homes were facing foreclosure or when thousands of dollars of back child support payments were due—per court orders. In the years before his death, Katherine was the only person in the family to have Michael’s home number, says a family member. His siblings were forced to leave messages at the guard gate of his home and then hope Michael would return their calls.
It was Katherine, say family members, who called and demanded that the entire family stand together as one in support of their brother during both of Michael’s criminal trials on child-molestation charges. Marlon all but refused to attend, due to Michael’s refusal to stop foreclosure proceedings on his home shortly before his last trial was set to begin in 2005, family members say.
“His sisters and brothers didn’t even seem to understand that Michael was basically strapped for cash during the last 10 or years of his life,” says his former business manager. “The lawsuits and his own excessive spending habits had done that. They didn’t seem to understand his situation.”
How could they, say some family members, when a few of the siblings had problems so dire that Katherine Jackson reportedly moved from her longtime home in Encino to escape the drama. Friends point to one of the most embarrassing scenarios for the family, which involves two brothers involved with the same woman. Both Randy and Jermaine Jackson had a long-term relationship with Alejandra Jackson—Randy married her—and both fathered children with her. Even after splitting with both men, Alejandra continued to stay with both sets of children at the family compound in Encino.
“Katherine was basically taking care of both sets of kids with the money Michael gave her while he was living,’’ says a close family friend. “... Katherine took care of those kids.’’
Alejandra Jackson could not be reached for comment.
In court papers filed in Los Angeles County Court by Alejandra against Jermaine Jackson, she claimed Jermaine provided her with only a Ralph’s grocery-store check-cashing card as support for the children one year. Last year she also claimed he owed her more $100,000 in back child support. The brothers each have two children with Alejandra. Reports and family members say both Randy and Jermaine have petitioned the estate of their late brother to help pay back child support.
But changes came abruptly after the King of Pop’s death. Katherine retained guardianship of his children, and they began living at with her at her Encino home. It wasn’t long before chaos ensued at the home, given the multiple children on the grounds. According to various news outlets including CNN, and family members, one of the older grandchildren allegedly ordered a stun gun online as a joke to play on Blanket, Michael Jackson’s youngest child. Someone inside the home called Child Services as a result, according to family members.
“After Child Services came to her home, Katherine asked Alejandra to move out with her kids because she needed to focus on Paris, Prince Michael, and Blanket,” says a family member. “She couldn’t have her other grandchildren playing pranks on them while they were still grieving. She felt they needed her full attention, with their father’s death.”
According to family members, Katherine offered the ex-wife of two of her sons a condo owned by Michael Jackson and a monthly income, with the stipulation that she sign a confidentiality contract that guaranteed she’d not write a book or go on the talk-show circuit.
Jermaine Jackson confirmed the arrangement to Radar Online last year.
“The money is with Katherine and Michael’s kids, pure and simple,” said a close family friend. “Everyone in that family knows that. [Neither] Randy nor Jermaine could afford to keep Alejandra in the lifestyle she wanted. They don’t work enough for that.”
Friends tell The Daily Beast that Katherine tried her best to be patient with the situation, even telling Alejandra that she could move back after construction work was done on the home to offer more space for all the children. Alejandra refused, they say.
Apparently already overwhelmed with estate issues, and with other family fires burning, the elder Jackson picked up and moved from her beloved Encino home to a heavily secured and gated rental home in Calabasas, Calif.
Her move apparently left Jermaine and Randy on the hook for providing support to their children and ex-wife. Their children and ex-wife did eventually move into the condo owned by Michael’s estate, just shortly before facing eviction from the Jackson Encino compound last year, court papers in Los Angeles County show.
“Katherine made it clear the new home was just for she and Michael’s kids,” said the family member. “Tito’s kids come over and help with the kids because they had a relationship with Michael and they are adults. Old enough to know right from wrong.”
Tito’s three sons are now in charge of taking care of Michael’s three children while Katherine remains at a spa in Arizona with daughter Rebbie and her children. Tito’s son T.J. Jackson filed the missing-person report on his grandmother last weekend.
While sources close to the family say Katherine Jackson is well and very much needed the rest, they say they don’t believe she knew she would be away from her grandchildren for such a long period.
“She would have never left those kids like that with no contact,” said a onetime Jackson employee who worked with the children at the family’s Encino home last year. “Those kids love her and want to be with her. She wants to be with them.”
But that could all change in the coming days.
Family members confirm to The Daily Beast that Prince Michael, Paris, and Blanket met with their court-appointed advocate Monday night to discuss the recent incidents. They also confirmed that the executors of Michael Jackson’s estate probably will seek emergency guardianship of his children in the wake of Katherine Jackson’s absence.
“This is really all about the money,” the former Jackson employee told The Daily Beast. “Michael never saw this coming.”