Music

Michael Jackson’s Son Says Estate Shouldn’t Pay Grandmother’s Legal Bills In Dispute Over $600 Million Catalog Deal

Michael Jackson’s son Blanket is asking a Los Angeles judge to stop his grandmother from using money from the iconic singer’s estate to fund her ongoing legal battles against the estate’s executors over their recent $600 million deal with Sony.

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In court filings obtained by Billboard, Blanket argued Monday that the estate shouldn’t foot the bill for Katherine Jackson’s pending appeal, in which she’s challenging a ruling last year that gave co-executors John Branca and John McClain approval to proceed with an unnamed transaction.

While the disputed deal itself is not explicitly named in legal documents, it appears to be the Jackson estate’s estimated $600 million deal to sell part of the singer’s catalog to Sony, the terms of which were first reported by Billboard last month.

Monday’s objections highlight a recent rift between Katherine and Blanket. Both of them initially opposed the estate’s proposed transaction, but after the judge ruled last year that the deal could move forward, Blanket and Jackson’s other children accepted the decision. Katherine opted instead to keep fighting, filing an appeal that remains pending.

In December, Katherine filed motions asking that the estate pay for her legal bills stemming from her objections, including the ongoing appellate case. But in his filing on Monday, Blanket said it would be “unfair” to force him and his siblings to pay for that case, since his grandmother’s efforts face “long odds.”

“It is readily apparent that a reversal on appeal would be an extreme longshot,” wrote lawyers for Blanket, who now uses the name Bigi. “Given those odds, Bigi decided not to waste his resources to participate in an appeal. Nonetheless, Katherine has decided to appeal this court’s ruling. That decision is not for the benefit of the heirs.”

It’s unclear exactly how much Katherine is seeking. In a court filing earlier this month, Branca and McClain said she had asked for more than $561,548 to cover her legal fees for both her initial objections and the current appeal. In that filing, the executors said they strongly opposed any estate payments for her “failed objection” and “meritless appeal.”

In his filing Monday, Blanket didn’t entirely oppose his grandmother’s request. He argued that the estate should, in fact, pay her legal bills for her initial opposition to the deal — arguing that she had presented “essential evidence” about the proposed transaction and that “all heirs and beneficiaries benefited from this court’s scrutiny.”

But he also argued the actual dollar total she had requested “might be high,” and questioned whether she had really needed to hire “four lawyers charging fees of $840 to $1,400 per hour.” And he argued any legal fees for the ongoing appeal should be entirely denied, since the ruling allowing the deal to proceed had been “reasoned and detailed.”

“Katherine’s petition has the practical effect of requiring Bigi and his siblings pay for her appeal,” Blanket wrote. “It would be unfair to make those beneficiaries shoulder this burden when they expressly decided an appeal would not be in their best interests.”

An attorney for Katherine Jackson did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday. Reps for the Jackson estate declined to comment.

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