Michael Jackson was murdered for the one billion dollar music catalogue he owned, claims his former advisor Leonard Rowe.
In an exclusive interview with RadarOnline.com, the King of Pop’s longtime friend and sometime financial advisor made the explosive claim, recalling that Jackson once told him: “They want my catalogue Rowe — and they will kill me for it.”
Rowe did not name who he is suggesting “murdered” Jackson, who had lethal doses of the powerful anesthetic Propofol in his body when he died.
While Jackson died with cash flow problems after blowing the profits from sales of $750 million records on extravagances, the superstar made one brilliant financial move.
In 1985, Jackson paid $47.5 million to buy the publishing catalog.
Ten years later, Sony paid Jackson $150 million for half the rights, forming a joint venture called Sony/ATV.
Today, Jackson’s half is valued at a minimum of $1 billion.
“Michael always felt he would be killed for his catalogue,” Rowe, a close confidante of family patriarch Joe Jackson, told RadarOnline.com.
“When he was speaking about it, I paid him no attention but as the latest events have unfolded, I couldn’t help but think about his statement — and it still haunts me today.” Rowe told RadarOnline.com.
Jackson died on June 25, 2009, on the eve of a sold-out 50-concert schedule in London that would have done much more than launch a musical comeback tour.
The London shows promised to net Jackson at least $50 million and chip away at nearly half a billion dollars in personal debt.
The one piece of collateral the musician died with was the 50 percent interest in the music publishing catalogue.
Said Rowe, “Michael’s catalogue was very valuable… and people wanted that catalogue.
“It is one thing that Michael told me, personally, that he would never sell it.
“Michael said he wanted to keep it for his children, no matter what type of financial situation he across, he would always hold onto his catalogue.
“People wanted that catalogue, but he would not relinquish it, at all.”
Following Jackson’s death, the administrators of his estate signed a $250 million deal giving Sony full access to the singer’s back catalog and previously unreleased material.
The estate still has its share in the catalogue.
Rowe had harsh words for a money-motivated clique of concert promoters who signed the star to a grueling commitment of 50 concerts.
Rowe said Jackson would not have been able to complete the 50 shows scheduled for the pop icon’s This Is It tour.
He said Jackson was forced into booking more performances than he was capable of.
“AEG had a contract with Michael that was nothing less than a cocked financial gun pointed to his head,” said Rowe.
“It is my belief that he was being totally exploited.
“I think they knew Michael’s condition, they knew Michael had an addiction, they knew his financial situation was deplorable and they used that against him; they trapped him… they must have known what they were doing.”
Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson’s personal physician, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Murray is accused of giving Jackson a fatal dose of an anesthetic to help him sleep. Jackson died June 25.
If convicted, the doctor could face up to four years in prison.
Rowe, no relation to Jackson’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe, is releasing a tell-all book titled What Really Happened To Michael Jackson, to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Jackson’s death.
The book is billed as a revelatory expose about “corruption, conspiracy and greed behind the singer’s shock death.
“The powers that be have been trying to keep me quiet by committing slander against me… I must confess, I am not one to be intimidated easily or one who will back down quickly,” Rowe told RadarOnline.com.
“Michael can’t speak now, but I can — and I will.
“I believe the powers that be knew that Michael and The Michael Jackson name was worth billions and billions of dollars and he was worth more to them dead than alive.
“What I hope is that everyone who is responsible for Michael Jackson’s death is brought to justice and fully prosecuted in a court of law.”