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During Monday’s testimony in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial, an accountant told the jury that if Jackson had lived, he would have easily made over $1.1 billion had he lived and continued to perform.
Arthur Erk, a certified public accountant who has helped musicians calculate royalties, said that his calculations of several ‘what-if’ scenarios showed that the “Thriller” singer would have been able to earn as much as $1.5 billion. According to the Associated Press, Erk said he came to the conclusion for the bigger number if Jackson began raising ticket prices for the ill-fated This Is It shows in London as it neared the end of its 50-show run.
Erk also calculated the number based on a possible Las Vegas show and a world tour that would include 260 concerts and stretch over 37 months.
The Los Angeles Times notes that Erk was called as an expert witness for Jackson’s mother Katherine and his children, who are the plaintiffs in the case against AEG. They allege that the company was negligent by hiring Conrad Murray as Jackson’s doctor, leading to Jackson’s 2009 death.
Erk’s numbers were based on AEG budgets and emails, as well as Jackson’s own notes and previous testimony in the case.
“Michael Jackson was in a class by himself,” Erk told the jury. “He was known as the King of Pop. There’s no one who comes close to him.”
Erk noted that Jackson was in dire need of money, so he would have reasons to keep performing until he turned 65 and retired. He said his numbers accounted for Jackson spending $134 million before he reached 65, but didn’t add in $400 million in debt Jackson owed when he died.
AEG Live defense attorney Sabrina Strong asked Erk why he didn’t consider that and why he didn’t include Jackson’s lavish spending habits.
Erk’s testimony could play a role in the jury’s decision on how much damages to award the Jackson family if they decide in their favor.
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