The AEG executive in charge of Michael Jackson's London concerts testified Monday that he had never heard of Conrad Murray — the doctor who gave the singer a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol — until Jackson told him he wanted the physician to accompany him on his comeback tour in England.
"He came up to me and said he wanted to take Dr. Murray to London as his personal physician," Paul Gongaware testified in the Jackson family's wrongful-death suit against Anschutz Entertainment Group, the tour promoter and producer.
When Gongaware suggested during the late April 2009 conversation it would be easier and cheaper to use an English doctor, Jackson vetoed the idea.
Gongaware said Jackson told him, "'This is the machine. We have to take care of the machine.' I think what he meant was his brain could create it but his body had to deliver the show every night."
Shortly after, Gongaware testified, he called Murray to tell him Jackson wanted to take him to London.
Murray, he said, didn't ask any questions, and they immediately started talking about the price.
"I asked him what he wanted." Gongaware testified. "He said he'd need $5 million."
Murray told Gongaware that he'd have to shut down his clinics in Houston, Las Vegas and San Diego and lay people off.
Asked by AEG attorney Marvin Putnam if Murray's price was reasonable, Gongaware replied, "It was ridiculous… Michael couldn't afford it, so I had to tell him it wasn't going to work."
Murray eventually agreed to work for $150,000 a month.
Jackson's mother and three children are suing AEG, Gongaware and AEG executive Randy Phillips, saying they negligently hired and supervised Murray. AEG says Jackson hired the doctor and that any money the company was supposed to pay him was an advance to the singer.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and is now serving a jail sentence.