Attention creditors and the state of California: Even as his Neverland ranch has been shut down today by authorities, Michael Jackson is back home in Encino after a nine month self-imposed exile.
Sources tell me exclusively that Jackson has been back at his family home in Encino for a day or so. He did not return to Neverland because he owes the staff back pay from Dec. 23, 2005.
This column has been the first and only to chronicle the lack of pay and insurance at Neverland. Reports today that California authorities finally figured out that there was no insurance at Neverland are pretty amusing. We've told you repeatedly for weeks that Neverland was about shut its doors. Wire reports today say that 30 employees have filed official complaints with the state labor authorities.
Readers of this column knew that weeks ago.
Some good news, though: Jackson returns to the family home in Encino with his mortgage payments up to date. Sources tell me sister Janet Jackson brought his $2.2 million loan current on February 10. The mortgage holder is relieved they don't have to foreclose. Janet Jackson also brought up to date Jackson's overdue payments on storage facilities in Buellton, Calif.
But Michael Jackson is in big, big trouble now. The state fined him $69,000, or $1,000 per employee, for allowing his insurance to lapse. He's also been levied $100,000 in fines for not paying the employees $306,000. That comes to $475,000, which Jackson does not have.
I do feel a little like Rodney Dangerfield here. For weeks I've told you in this space that Jackson was heading for a colossal financial disaster. Well, it's here, and so is he. Jackson's arrival in Encino signals a total break with Prince Abdullah of Bahrain who was underwriting the singer's extravagant lifestyle since last year. At the same time, Jackson faces imminent foreclosure on $270 million of loans guaranteed by his 50 percent ownership in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, aka the Beatles catalog.
More tomorrow, including the news that Jackson's year 2005 civil attorney, Brent Ayscough, has filed a breach of contract suit against the singer in Torrance, Calif., as of Feb. 21, 2006. And that's not all. Tonight, even as you read this, Jackson's employees who are still talking to him are headed to the Encino house for a meeting.
Our flies are on the walls.