Jackson Estate Accused of Breaching Contract During Administration

Posted on Dec 14, 2013

In yet another legal battle involving the estate of Michael Jackson, music mogul Quincy Jones is seeking $10 million for the estate’s alleged breach of contract. Jones accuses the estate of improperly remixing his master recordings in order to avoid paying him royalties and production fees. The estate of the late pop star made $160 million in the last year alone. His estate is the top grossing of all deceased celebrities. The musician passed away four years ago.

The estate has rolled out several projects relating to the late musician’s work during the administration process. Among the projects that Jones alleges the Jackson estate cut him out of are the Cirque du Soleil shows “Immortal” and “One,” the “This Is It” film and soundtrack, and a special edition boxed set to mark the 25th anniversary of the iconic album “Bad.” Jones filed his suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Sony Music Entertainment. Sony is the parent company of Epic Records and MJJ Productions, which is controlled by the estate of Michael Jackson.

As the estate administration was carried out, Jones also accused the estate, through MJJ Productions, of denying him credit for works used on posthumous releases. He further accuses the estate of entering into side deals with Sony, including a venture agreement, in order to take profits that should have been included in royalties owed to Jones. He states that the estate and Sony agreed to revert the rights to the masters from Sony to MJJ Productions, and were not to be distributed by Sony. This allowed them to disguise the revenues of profits instead of paying royalties.

Jones is seeking $10 million in damages and an accounting of revenue in connection with the use of the masters in various projects. Howard Weiztman, an attorney representing the estate, released the following statement: “The Estate of Michael Jackson was saddened to learn that Quincy Jones has filed a lawsuit seeking money from Michael’s estate. To the best of its knowledge, Mr. Jones has been appropriately compensated over approximately 35 years for his work with Michael.”

To learn more about this and other estate administration matters, contact an Anaheim trust administration attorney today at (714) 459-5481.

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James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm