Concert promoter AEG Live's chief executive said Thursday that insurance will help cover any losses on the now-canceled Michael Jackson concert series if the pop star died accidentally — including of a drug overdose — but not if he died of natural causes.
Randy Phillips said the company took out $17.5 million in insurance coverage through Lloyd's of London.
That would fall short of the $25 million to $30 million Phillips said AEG Live spent on Jackson's advance, producing the 50-date series at The O2 arena, covering some of Jackson's debts, and paying his staff and rent on the Holmby Hills mansion where he lived.
Phillips added, however, that 40 percent to 50 percent of concert ticket-buyers have so far decided to receive tickets as memorabilia in lieu of a full refund, a pace that is on track to help the company at least break even on its expenses.
The sold-out concerts had garnered some $85 million in ticket sales, but AEG has offered full refunds on the face value and surcharges.
Extra potential revenue from rehearsal concert footage and a video project Jackson was overseeing before his death on Thursday could also be a boon to AEG and Jackson's estate, he said.
"For the record, this great company I work for is not bankrupt and not going out of business and certainly not in trouble," Phillips said. "I'm heartbroken but the company's fine."
The singer died Thursday at age 50, leaving behind a battle for control of his estate that lawyers named in a will as executors estimated is worth more than $500 million. His mother, Katherine Jackson, is also seeking to become estate administrator.
Phillips said he saw no need to sue the estate to recover any of AEG's costs.
"Right now I think the estate and AEG are very much in line and not adversarial and I'd like to keep it that way," he said.