Janet Jackson has responded to an author's reporting that she refused to let the burial of her brother, pop star Michael Jackson , take place for three months due to a bitter dispute she had with his estate over money, calling the claims "false and defamatory" through her attorney.
Details of the alleged dispute are part of a new book called, "Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson," by Randall Sullivan. The book does not go on sale until next month but Vanity Fair has released excerpts in the November issue of the magazine.
According to the Vanity Fair article, Sullivan reports that Janet Jackson laid out $40,000 of her own money to have her brother buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks and Mortuaries in Glendale, Calif., but refused to let the funeral happen until the money was repaid.
In an Oct. 5th letter addressed to Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter, Jackson's attorney, Blair G. Brown, says the excerpts from Sullivan's book on which the Vanity Fair article is based, "have no basis in fact and are highly damaging to Ms. Jackson's reputation."
According to Brown, "The article states that, according to "Untouchable," Ms. Jackson put down a $40,000 deposit to secure a burial plot for Michael Jackson but refused to let the funeral take place until money was repaid. This is untrue. Ms. Jackson never delayed the funeral in any way. In fact, she paid for the funeral and was reimbursed for some of those expenses by Michael Jackson's estate in the year after the service took place. In addition, there were other private costs associated with Michael Jackson's passing that Ms. Jackson incurred and for which she has reimbursement. To falsely accuse Ms. Jackson of holding up her brother's funeral over money is outrageous. This story is particularly hurtful and distressing because of Ms. Jackson's strong desire to serve her brother, whom she loved dearly and her wish to stand with and support her family."
Jackson and her legal team have asked Vanity Fair to retract the article's statement that "Ms. Jackson 'refused' to let the burial take place until the money she put down on his burial plot was repaid."
In a statement issued to ABC News today, a Vanity Fair spokeswoman stood by the article and said additional reporting found that Ms. Jackson, in fact, deposited more than the $40,000 reported by Sullivan in his book for Michael Jackson's burial.
"Vanity Fair stands by Randall Sullivan's assertion that Janet Jackson's demand to be reimbursed for her deposit on her brother's burial plot was one of the reasons Michael Jackson's funeral was delayed. Sullivan's sources told him that the amount of the deposit was $40,000, but records released last week indicate that the amount of the deposit was $49,000. Vanity Fair will make that correction on VF.com," read the statement from Beth Kseniak, a spokeswoman for the magazine.
Another story featured in the book tells of a purported mad race among some family members to remove items from Michael's house in the hours after he died on June 25, 2009.
Sullivan reports that Michael's mother, Katherine Jackson, then 79 years old, arrived at the home and telephoned Grace Rwaramba, the recently terminated longtime nanny to Michael's children, asking about the location of money at Michael's home. Rwaramba is said to have described Michael's practice of hiding his cash in black plastic garbage bags and under the carpets.
Sullivan says that he was told by the owner of a private security company that dispatched a team to Michael's home the night of his death that he saw La Toya Jackson and her boyfriend load black plastic garbage bags into duffel bags and place them in the garage. But La Toya would claim that nearly all of her brother's money was gone by the time she arrived at his home.
A spokesperson for La Toya told ABC News that the claims about her are "completely untrue" and that the "boyfriend" Sullivan names in his book is in fact not her boyfriend, but instead her business partner.
Katherine Jackson's lawyer, Sandra Ribera, told ABC News, "Katherine Jackson's number one priority since the death of her son Michael has been the well being of Michael's children. The implication that on the night of her son's death Mrs. Jackson would be doing anything other than grieving with and consoling her grandchildren is simply ridiculous."
Sullivan's book also claims to shed light onto Katherine Jackson's alleged "abduction" this past summer in which the family matriarch was taken to Arizona from her home in Calabasas, Calif., - where she has lived with Michael's three children, Paris, 15, Prince Michael, 14, and Prince Michael II "Blanket," 10, since the late singer died. Three of her children cited her need for a "short vacation and rest."