The cost of Michael Jackson’s private funeral topped $1 million, with more than half that amount going to buy a crypt in a celebrity-studded Glendale mausoleum and $35,000 spent on clothes for the singer, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
Jackson, who died in June, was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in September in a nighttime ceremony arranged by his family and paid for by his estate. The probate judge who signed off on those expenses made public the funeral costs at a hearing in which he also appointed two longtime Jackson associates, entertainment attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain, as executors of his estate.
As described in the filing, the estate paid, among other expenses, $590,000 for Jackson’s crypt in Forest Lawn’s Great Mausoleum, a vast granite- and marble-filled palazzo that is the final resting place of Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and other stars. Guest invitations, which went out to Jackson friends Elizabeth Taylor, Macaulay Culkin, Quincy Jones and others, cost $11,716. The bill for security, including the fleet of luxury cars that delivered Jackson’s children, parents and siblings to the ceremony, came to $30,000. The florist’s bill was $16,000, and the funeral planner charged $15,000. An Italian restaurant in Pasadena billed $21,455 for a “funeral repast” after the service.
A lawyer for the estate executors noted that Jackson’s family decided on the details of the ceremony, but said a lavish funeral fit the life the singer lived.
“It was Michael Jackson. He was bigger than life when he was alive,” attorney Howard Weitzman said.
Details of the funeral expenses came amid a flurry of developments in the legal wrangling between Jackson’s parents, Katherine and Joe, and the men whom the entertainer willed to run his affairs. In his will, Jackson placed all his assets in a trust benefiting his children, charities and his mother -- his closest confidant -- but left nothing to his father, whom he had criticized as violent and bullying.
Katherine Jackson announced Tuesday through a lawyer that she was withdrawing her objections to Branca and McClain overseeing her son’s posthumous interests and would work with them to enhance the value of his estate.
“She wants the fighting to end, and she wants it to end now,” said Adam Streisand, an attorney recently hired by the family matriarch.
Her change of heart came as a shock to her husband, whose attorney appeared in court to make a last-minute attempt to derail the appointment of the executors. Joe Jackson’s lawyer said the patriarch believed there had been a backroom deal between the executors and Katherine Jackson to buy her compliance.
“She has reneged on her obligation to her family,” lawyer Brian Oxman said. Weitzman, the executors’ lawyer, denied the allegations, which he termed “outrageously spurious.”
Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff set a December hearing for Joe Jackson to seek a monthly allowance for living expenses that he says his son had covered for decades, but the judge said the singer’s father had no legal standing to object to the executors because he wasn’t a beneficiary.
“Joe Jackson ultimately takes none of this estate and that was a decision his son made,” the judge said.