i had to put it in 2 parts, .
'I'm better off dead. I'm done': How Michael Jackson predicted his death six months ago
By Ian Halperin
Last updated at 2:08 AM on 28th June 2009
Whatever the final autopsy results reveal, it was greed that killed Michael Jackson. Had he not been driven – by a cabal of bankers, agents, doctors and advisers – to commit to the gruelling 50 concerts in London’s O2 Arena, I believe he would still be alive today.
During the last weeks and months of his life, Jackson made desperate attempts to prepare for the concert series scheduled for next month – a series that would have earned millions for the singer and his entourage, but which he could never have completed, not mentally, and not physically.
Michael knew it and his advisers knew it. Anyone who caught even a fleeting glimpse of the frail old man hiding beneath the costumes and cosmetics would have understood that the London tour was madness. For Michael Jackson, it was fatal.
I had more than a glimpse of the real Michael; as an award-winning freelance journalist and film-maker, I spent more than five years inside his ‘camp’.
Many in his entourage spoke frankly to me – and that made it possible for me to write authoritatively last December that Michael had six months to live, a claim that, at the time, his official spokesman, Dr Tohme Tohme, called a ‘complete fabrication’.
Some liked to snigger at his public image, and it is true that flamboyant clothes and bizarre make-up made for a comic grotesque; yet without them, his appearance was distressing; with skin blemishes, thinning hair and discoloured fingernails.
I had established beyond doubt, for example, that Jackson relied on an extensive collection of wigs to hide his greying hair. Shorn of their luxuriance, the Peter Pan of Neverland cut a skeletal figure.
It was clear that he was in no condition to do a single concert, let alone 50. He could no longer sing, for a start. On some days he could barely talk. He could no longer dance. Disaster was looming in London and, in the opinion of his closest confidantes, he was feeling suicidal.
To understand why a singer of Jackson’s fragility would even think about travelling to London, we need to go back to June 13, 2005, when my involvement in his story began.
As a breaking news alert flashed on CNN announcing that the jury had reached a verdict in Jackson’s trial for allegedly molesting 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo at his Neverland Ranch in California, I knew that history had been made but that Michael Jackson had been broken – irrevocably so, as it proved.
Nor was it the first time that Michael had been accused of impropriety with young boys. Little more than a decade earlier, another 13-year-old, Jordan Chandler, made similar accusations in a case that was eventually settled before trial – but not before the damage had been done to Jackson’s reputation.
Michael had not helped his case. Appearing in a documentary with British broadcaster Martin Bashir, he not only admitted that he liked to share a bed with teenagers, mainly boys, in pyjamas, but showed no sign of understanding why anyone might be legitimately concerned.
I had started my investigation convinced that Jackson was guilty. By the end, I no longer believed that.
I could not find a single shred of evidence suggesting that Jackson had molested a child. But I found significant evidence demonstrating that most, if not all, of his accusers lacked credibility and were motivated primarily by money.
Jackson also deserved much of the blame, of course. Continuing to share a bed with children even after the suspicions surfaced bordered on criminal stupidity.
He was also playing a truly dangerous game. It is clear to me that Michael was homosexual and that his taste was for young men, albeit not as young as Jordan Chandler or Gavin Arvizo.
In the course of my investigations, I spoke to two of his gay lovers, one a Hollywood waiter, the other an aspiring actor. The waiter had remained friends, perhaps more, with the singer until his death last week. He had served Jackson at a restaurant, Jackson made his interest plain and the two slept together the following night. According to the waiter, Jackson fell in love.
The actor, who has been given solid but uninspiring film parts, saw Jackson in the middle of 2007. He told me they had spent nearly every night together during their affair – an easy claim to make, you might think. But this lover produced corroboration in the form of photographs of the two of them together, and a witness.
Other witnesses speak of strings of young men visiting his house at all hours, even in the period of his decline. Some stayed overnight.
When Jackson lived in Las Vegas, one of his closest aides told how he would sneak off to a ‘grungy, rat-infested’ motel – often dressed as a woman to disguise his identity – to meet a male construction worker he had fallen in love with.
Jackson was acquitted in the Arvizo case, dramatically so, but the effect on his mental state was ruinous. Sources close to him suggest he was close to complete nervous breakdown.
The ordeal had left him physically shattered, too. One of my sources suggested that he might already have had a genetic condition I had never previously come across, called Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency – the lack of a protein that can help protect the lungs.
Although up to 100,000 Americans are severely affected by it, it is an under-recognised condition. Michael was receiving regular injections of Alpha-1 antitrypsin derived from human plasma. The treatment is said to be remarkably effective and can enable the sufferer to lead a normal life.
But the disease can cause respiratory problems and, in severe cases, emphysema. Could this be why Jackson had for years been wearing a surgical mask in public, to protect his lungs from the ravages of the disease? Or why, from time to time, he resorted to a wheelchair? When I returned to my source inside the Jackson camp for confirmation, he said: ‘Yeah, that’s what he’s got. He’s in bad shape. They’re worried that he might need a lung transplant but he may be too weak.
‘Some days he can hardly see and he’s having a lot of trouble walking.’
Even Michael Jackson’s legendary wealth was in sharp decline. Just a few days before he announced his 50-concert comeback at the O2 Arena, one of my sources told me Jackson had been offered £1.8million to perform at a party for a Russian billionaire on the Black Sea.
‘Is he up to it?’ I had asked.
‘He has no choice. He needs the money. His people are pushing him hard,’ said the source.
Could he even stand on a stage for an hour concert?
‘He can stand. The treatments have been successful. He can even dance once he gets in better shape. He just can’t sing,’ said the aide, adding that Jackson would have to lip-synch to get through the performance. ‘Nobody will care, as long as he shows up and moonwalks.’
He also revealed Jackson had been offered well over £60million to play Las Vegas for six months. ‘He said no, but his people are trying to force it on him. He’s that close to losing everything,’ said the source.
Indeed, by all accounts Jackson’s finances were in a shambles. The Arvizo trial itself was a relative bargain, costing a little more than £18million in legal bills.
But the damage to his career, already in trouble before the charges, was incalculable. After the Arvizo trial, a Bahraini sheikh allowed Jackson to stay in his palace, underwriting his lavish lifestyle. But a few years later, the prince sued his former guest, demanding repayment for his hospitality. Jackson claimed he thought it had been a gift.
Roger Friedman, a TV journalist, said: ‘For one year, the prince underwrote Jackson’s life in Bahrain – everything including accommodation, guests, security and transportation. And what did Jackson do? He left for Japan and then Ireland. He took the money and moonwalked right out the door. This is the real Michael Jackson. He has never returned a phone call from the prince since he left Bahrain.’
Although Jackson settled with the sheikh on the eve of the trial that would have aired his financial dirty laundry, the settlement only put him that much deeper into the hole. A hole that kept getting bigger, but that was guaranteed by Jackson’s half ownership of the copyrights to The Beatles catalogue. He owned them in a joint venture with record company Sony, which have kept him from bankruptcy.
Jackson is in hock to Sony for hundreds of millions,’ a source told me a couple of months ago. ‘No bank will give him any money so Sony have been paying his bills.
‘The trouble is that he hasn’t been meeting his obligations. Sony have been in a position for more than a year where it can repossess Michael’s share of the [Beatles] catalogue. That’s always been Sony’s dream scenario, full ownership.
‘But they don’t want to do it as they’re afraid of a backlash from his fans. Their nightmare is an organised 'boycott Sony' movement worldwide, which could prove hugely costly. It is the only thing standing between Michael and bankruptcy.’
The source aid at the time that the scheduled London concerts wouldn’t clear Jackson’s debts – estimated at almost £242million – but they would allow him to get them under control and get him out of default with Sony.
According to two sources in Jackson’s camp, the singer put in place a contingency plan to ensure his children would be well taken care of in the event of bankruptcy.
‘He has as many as 200 unpublished songs that he is planning to leave behind for his children when he dies. They can’t be touched by the creditors, but they could be worth as much as £60million that will ensure his kids a comfortable existence no matter what happens,’ one of his collaborators revealed.
But for the circle of handlers who surrounded Jackson during his final years, their golden goose could not be allowed to run dry. Bankruptcy was not an option.
These, after all, were not the handlers who had seen him through the aftermath of the Arvizo trial and who had been protecting his fragile emotional health to the best of their ability. They were gone, and a new set of advisers was in place.
The clearout had apparently been engineered by his children’s nanny, Grace Rwaramba, who was gaining considerable influence over Jackson and his affairs and has been described as the ‘queen bee’ by those around Jackson.
Rwaramba had ties to the black militant organisation, the Nation of Islam, and its controversial leader, Louis Farrakhan, whom she enlisted for help in running Jackson’s affairs.
Before long, the Nation was supplying Jackson’s security detail and Farrakhan’s son-in-law, Leonard Muhammad, was appointed as Jackson’s business manager, though his role has lessened significantly in recent years.
In late 2008, a shadowy figure who called himself Dr Tohme Tohme suddenly emerged as Jackson’s ‘official spokesman’.
Tohme has been alternately described as a Saudi Arabian billionaire and an orthopaedic surgeon, but he is actually a Lebanese businessman who does not have a medical licence. At one point, Tohme claimed he was an ambassador at large for Senegal, but the Senegalese embassy said they had never heard of him.
Tohme’s own ties to the Nation of Islam came to light in March 2009, when New York auctioneer Darren Julien was conducting an auction of Michael Jackson memorabilia.
Julien filed an affidavit in Los Angeles Superior Court that month in which he described a meeting he had with Tohme’s business partner, James R. Weller. According to Julien’s account, ‘Weller said if we refused to postpone [the auction], we would be in danger from 'Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam; those people are very protective of Michael'.
He told us that Dr Tohme and Michael Jackson wanted to give the message to us that 'our lives are at stake and there will be bloodshed'.’
Last edited by rosco 357 on Sun Jun 28, 2009 4:00 am; edited 1 time in total