Though Koppelman had actually come up with a higher bid, Holmes a Court apparently accepted Jackson's offer because it appeared that the singer could close the deal more quickly. Jackson's early decision to examine the books before waiting for a formal contract turned out to be the key to the deal, a Holmes a Court representative said recently.
"In the end," he suggested, "it came down to who could act fastest . . . and Mr. Jackson was in a position to act."
Had the Holmes a Court team been worried when Jackson broke off negotiations?
"We never felt we were in the position where we had to sell the ATV catalogue," one Holmes a Court aide said. "It's a wonderful catalogue with marvelous songs, so we could have kept it unless we got the right terms."
Why sell the catalogue in the first place?
"Cash is nice to have, too."
The contract was finally signed at 2:45 a.m. on Aug. 10, though neither Jackson nor Holmes a Court was present. The two will meet for the first time next month when Jackson visits Australia as the guest of Holmes a Court. The visit won't just be a courtesy call. It's a contract provision requested by Holmes a Court.
Jackson talked excitedly about the Beatles songs as he sat a few days ago in his upstairs bedroom at the family house in Encino. The tension of the acquisition was far behind him.
"The melodies," he said, enthusiastically. "They are so lovely . . . (and) structured so perfectly."
Jackson dislikes being quoted, but he couldn't resist agreeing to nominate his five favorite Beatles songs.
Asked if he wanted to look at a list of the songs to refresh his memory, he shook his head.
" Yesterday ," he said with a conviction that suggested it was far and away his favorite.
" 'Here, There and Everywhere.'
" 'Fool on the Hill.'
" 'Let It Be.'
" 'Hey Jude.'
" 'Eleanor Rigby.'
"And 'Penny Lane.'
" 'Strawberry Fields Forever.'
"And. . . ."
He realized that the list had stretched beyond five.
"Can I make it my favorite 10?"