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Thread: How Michael Jackson Bought the Beatles Catalogue

   
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    Arrow How Michael Jackson Bought the Beatles Catalogue

    How Michael Jackson Bought the Beatles Catalogue



    Johnnie L. Roberts, TheWrap

    Forty-eight million in cash would get Michael Jackson only so far in his bid to possess a musical crown jewel.

    The coup a quarter-century ago that would hand him ownership of the Beatles catalogue -- one of the 20th century's greatest bodies of songs -- relied heavily on an invaluable intangible: superlawyer John Branca's guile and chutzpah.

    Today, Branca effectively controls Jackson's estate -- potentially the richest ever for a celebrity -- and the Beatles catalogue is its shiniest crown jewel. In 1985, the Branca-engineered Beatles purchase would radically redefine the dimensions of Jackson's legend.

    In a few years of adulthood and relative freedom from his family's shadow, he towered as a creative force evidenced by the historic ''Thriller," the worldwide tour in support of "Bad," his illusionary moonwalk and the iconographic studded glove. Possessing the Beatles, however, revealed how Jackson's business instincts rivaled his remarkable artistry.

    Why the Beatles didn't own their catalogue in the first place was unfortunate. Seeking to thwart British tax collectors, John Lennon and Paul McCartney in the 1960s formed Northern Songs, a public company, as the repository for the songs they wrote. The move backfired in 1969 when impresario Sir Lew Grade bought control of it on the open market through one of his companies, ATV Music.

    Seventeen years later, Australian Robert Holmes à Court acquired Grade's crumbling entertainment empire. And, inevitably, Holmes à Court, a notable among the era's unsentimental raiders and plunderers of corporations, would put all or parts of it, including the Beatles, on the auction block.

    In September 1984, Branca alerted Jackson, mentioning that ATV, a name the entertainer didn't even recognize, was available. ''It includes a few things you might be interested in," Branca had teased Jackson, according to a 1985 report in the Los Angeles Times. ''Northern Songs ... yeah, Mike ... the Beatles."

    On Nov. 20, the lawyer telexed Holmes à Court, with a $46 million offer and a meeting request. Garry Stiffelman, a Branca firm partner who handled pivotal details, described the ensuing months negotiating and jockeying ''the long and winding road," the Times reported.

    There was the globe-spanning ordeal of verifying the authenticity of all 4,000 songs in the catalogue, not just the 251 Beatles songs. But mostly it was the maddening antics of the seller, Holmes à Court, who repeatedly reneged on his word. In all, there were eight drafts of the contract, the Times noted.

    Holmes à Court relished his reputation for tough dealing. ''The Viet Cong didn't play by the rules, and look what happened," he once told Fortune magazine.

    More from TheWrap: Civil war over Jackson's new single

    In May 1985, Jackson's emissaries abandoned talks for about a month. Meanwhile, another bidder suddenly emerged: the team of Martin Bandier (now CEO of Sony/ATV) and Charles Koppelman, a veteran show business executive and investor who's now chairman of Martha Stewart's empire.

    Their offer: $50 million -- about $2 million more than Jackson's.

    Ironically, while Koppelman and Bandier had no idea that the world's biggest megastar was in the running, Branca had sensitive intelligence on the rivals. He, for example, knew they were backed by MCA Music, then headed by Irving Azoff, now CEO of Live Nation. An old Branca acquaintance, the lawyer had hired Azoff in 1984 to help with the Victory tour, Jackson's last with his brothers.

    So when Bandier and Koppelman thought they had the deal sewn up, Branca called on Azoff to pull his financing. The two were the last to know they'd been sucker-punched. On the flight to London to -- they thought -- seal the deal, they spied Branca in a nearby seat. ''What are you doing in London," asked Bandier. Replied Branca, ''Just business."

    Not until the Bandier and Koppelman met with Holmes à Court, Bandier recalls, did they learn disappointing news: ''He said, 'I've made a decision. I'm selling it to Michael Jackson.'"

    Indeed, Branca had left nothing to chance. The bid, at $47.5 million, was the highest amount ever paid by an individual for a catalogue, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    On top of the cash, Branca threw in a Jackson benefit concert for Holmes à Court's favorite charity and pledged a lifetime of income from the Beatles' classic "Penny Lane" to Holmes à Court's daughter, Penny.

    "Brilliant," Bandier told me this summer, recalling Branca's move. "Charles and I couldn't do the moonwalk."

    To this day, 25 years later, it's still evident Branca and his law partners remain sensitive to Paul McCartney's stinging accusation that his one-time friend Jackson had stabbed him in the back.

    ''Paul's representatives were very aware of what was going on," said Gary Stiffelman, who handled pivotal details for Branca. ''The part that always bothered me was the accusation that Michael stole it from under McCartney."

    Branca also had been careful to seek the blessing of Yoko Ono. She reportedly was thrilled that a corporation wouldn't own the catalogue and didn't want the headache herself of teaming with McCartney for a joint bid.

    When it was all over, Jackson gifted Branca with a Rolls Royce, the first of two he would give him. So it was that at barely 30 in 1990, Jackson now was fabulously wealthy -- worth $300 million, according to biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of "Michael Jackson: The Magic and Madness."

    But as the 1990s dawned, a dark chapter of eccentricities, paranoia, debt, lawsuits and scandal loomed. Stunningly, 10 years later, he would be on the hook to one bank for $300 million, with his Beatles rights at stake and his relationship with Branca having turned into a soap opera.

    http://music.msn.com/michael-jackson...b5e4d511&mpc=2
    Michael, thank you for the music, the moves, the magic, and the memories.



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    Default Re: How Michael Jackson Bought the Beatles Catalogue

    sorry..but tarraborelli has holes in him..you never know when he's mixing truth with lies, and then msn's unfounded dig at the end, to get themselves off the hook for their envy of Michael and the murder of Michael, they committed as media partakers, makes it undependable to rely on every minute detail of this article to be correct. it's enough to know MJ was brilliant at business, and hired a lawyer that was able to broker.

    and it would be nice if they would stress more, the importance of the other songs in that catalogue, and MJ's ownership of MJ's mijac catalogue, too, as songs that were a greater investment, and prove to be an even more brilliant businesss move by MJ because they have great resale value without promotion,which is more valuable than just the Beatles, which depends on promotion.
    Last edited by 144,000; 24-12-2010 at 01:02 PM.
    In Love of Money Land(Branca,sony,mainstream media), it's always a pride and snowy day.

    And, remember when the king of pop fired John Branca?

    https://t.co/dm3MFQdbzd

    http://imgur.com/a/gdU5v It doesn't just... go away.

  3. #3
    MusicMan26
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    Default Re: How Michael Jackson Bought the Beatles Catalogue

    Yeah, that's one thing I never liked - how the media always focuses on just the Beatles part of the catalog.

    Nice article though (except for the last part).

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    elusive moonwalker
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    Default Re: How Michael Jackson Bought the Beatles Catalogue

    u can tell how it pisses the media off that mj bought the beatles when those songs are a very tiny % of what was in that cat. yet thats all they mention
    Last edited by elusive moonwalker; 24-12-2010 at 05:36 PM.

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    Default Re: How Michael Jackson Bought the Beatles Catalogue

    Quote Originally Posted by elusive moonwalker View Post
    u can tell how it pisses the media off that mj bought the beatles when those songs are a very tiny% of what was in that cat. yet thats all they mention
    Very true..

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    Default Re: How Michael Jackson Bought the Beatles Catalogue

    This Johnnie L. Roberts was a buisness reporter at Newsweek for many years. He is obssessed with MJ'S finances. Not surprize John Branca and the estate denied him access. MJ always denied him access too. No one remotely close to MJ would talk to him.

    Every year he wrote MJ was going bankrupt. His MJ columns were always sloppy journalismn. When listing MJ'S assets he sometimes mentioned the beatles catalogue, but never MJ'S own music catalogue. The last paragragh is more in keeping with the kind of negative pieces he wrote about MJ.

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    Default Re: How Michael Jackson Bought the Beatles Catalogue

    In May 1985, Jackson's emissaries abandoned talks for about a month. Meanwhile, another bidder suddenly emerged: the team of Martin Bandier (now CEO of Sony/ATV) and Charles Koppelman, a veteran show business executive and investor who's now chairman of Martha Stewart's empire.
    Wow, so the guy who lost out to Mj 25 years ago and was probably pissed about it now helps run it? I wouldn't trust him.
    "Wipe them out, all of them." " . . . if they're not all destoryed, it will be civil war without end." "Do What Must Be Done, Lord Vader. Do Not Hesitate. Show No Mercy."
    Everything for my 3 girls.

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