Jackson's luxe lifestyle aided by Wall Street firms

Colony's main business is investing in real estate, non-performing loans and distressed assets. It has invested more than $39 billion in more than 8,500 assets since 1991, according to its website. Neither Colony nor Fortress, an investment company with $26.5 billion in assets, would comment.

Jackson wasn't the first music superstar to woo Wall Street.

In 1997, glam rocker David Bowie raised $55 million upfront by offering "Bowie Bonds" that paid interest from royalties on some of his past hits. The bonds, which provided a 7.9% return over 10 years, were snapped up by insurer Prudential Insurance and helped usher in the era of asset-backed securities.

This so-called securitization of intellectual property rights was followed by other entertainers, including James Brown and Isley Brothers.

Wall Street has also had some notable missteps with the music industry, including private equity firm Terra Firma's 2007 buyout of recording company EMI Group. The label has struggled amid the decline of CD sales, the rise of digital music downloading and the departure of major acts like Radiohead and the Rolling Stones.

"Unquestionably, Wall Street has gotten into the entertainment industry. In some cases it has been smart and in others not so much," said John Scher, a New York concert promoter who put on three Jackson shows in the 1980s.

For other investors, the glare of celebrities like Jackson is simply too much.

Art Capital Group was approached by Jackson for financing years ago but turned down the singer, Peck said. The firm was concerned about how to value Jackson's proposed collateral, which included a collection of 19th century paintings by Adolphe Bouguereau. The French Old Master was known for his nude portraits — including many featuring cherubic-faced children.

"Frankly, it was just too intense a spotlight for us," Peck said.

Others say Jackson's death and the massive interest it has spawned only makes the star more bankable.

David Reeder, vice president of GreenLight, a Los Angeles firm that handles intellectual property rights for celebrity estates, predicted Jackson's estate is sitting on a cash cow of reissued and unreleased music, merchandise and endorsements like those seen with late actors Steve McQueen or Lucille Ball.

"There's a huge opportunity to leverage his brand going forward," Reeder said.

Another sign of Jackson's investment value is the lofty prices being fetched for the pop star's memorabilia. The day after he died, 21 items sold at auction for a $205,000, including a painting of Mickey Mouse that Jackson made as a child that went for $25,000.

"From a collector's standpoint, he's a very good investment. He's already at the level of Elvis Presley," said Darren Julien, principal of Julien Auctions, which has overseen several auctions of Jackson items.

Another big advantage for Jackson's creditors: They no longer will incur the risk from the singer's lavish spending habits, which over the years have included a chimpanzee named Bubbles and a hyperbaric chamber.

"The sad irony is that the estate will likely be run in a very profitable way from here forward," said Peck of Art Capital Group. "There's not the X-factor of somebody going out doing crazy things."

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