For the past few months, thanks largely to the documentary Leaving Neverland, the discussion on Michael Jackson has largely centered around whether the late pop superstar deserves a more critical re-examination due to multiple allegations of child sexual abuse. But how did the singer, who was up to his ears in debt around the turn of the century and suffering from many stains on his reputation, rehabilitate himself in the first place? And who deserves a chunk of the billions of dollars in spoils from what was collected in the aftermath of the King of Pop’s fateful overdose on propofol at age 50 on June 25, 2009.
This coming Tuesday, nearly a decade after Jackson’s death, a trial is scheduled to begin that will explore the singer’s final, strange days, and in particular, his relationship with Tohme Tohme, a mysterious man who came into Jackson’s life in 2008 boasting of connections throughout the Arab world.
In Tohme’s lawsuit, filed all the way back in 2012 — so long ago that it’s understandable that this legal dispute has slipped off almost everyone’s radar — he alleges providing the necessary “advice, guidance, and skillful work” to improve Jackson’s public image, alleviate the singer’s financial situation, and put his client in a position to make a final tour. Tohme continues to allege that the Michael Jackson Estate owes him a 15 percent commission on compensation that Jackson received during his last year on Earth and also wants a cut of revenues relating to This Is It, the concert film that grossed hundreds of millions of dollars. Finally, he’s seeking a finder’s fee for securing a loan that prevented foreclosure on Jackson’s beloved Neverland Ranch home.