Michael Jackson Net Worth, Early Life, Career

Michael Jackson Net Worth

At the time of his death, Michael Jackson amassed a net worth estimated at $500 million.

Michael Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer who became known as the “King of Pop.” At the peak of his career in the 1980s and 1990s, Jackson was one of history’s most famous and successful musical artists.

Michael Jackson Net Worth

At the peak of his unprecedented fame in the late 1980s, Michael Jackson net worth was estimated to be over $500 million, making him one of the wealthiest entertainers in the world.

A significant amount of his net worth came from music sales, publishing rights to one of the greatest song catalogs, profitable concert tours, endorsements, and investments in assets like the Beatles catalog and real estate.

His 1982 album “Thriller” nearly single-handedly doubled the music industry’s profits that year and became the world’s best-selling album of all time, with over 100 million copies sold. Subsequent smash albums “Bad” and “Dangerous” also sold tens of millions apiece.

Early Life and Education

Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, on August 29, 1958. He was the eighth child born to Joseph and Katherine Jackson. The Jackson family was working class, with Joseph employed as a steel mill crane operator and Katherine as a store clerk.

As children, Michael and his siblings showed early musical talent. By age 5, Michael was performing with his older brothers in a musical group that would later be known as the Jackson 5. The group played at local talent shows and music venues before landing a major deal with Motown Records when Michael was 11.

Michael Jackson Net Worth

Despite his fame, Michael longed for a normal childhood he never had. He briefly studied at the private Montclair College Preparatory School in Van Nuys, California, in the 1970s. However, his burgeoning career with the Jackson 5 cut his education short.

Career Beginnings

The Jackson 5, featuring young Michael and his brothers, shot to fame after signing with Motown Records in 1968. Their first four singles – “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There” – all reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Michael transitioned from a supporting vocalist to the lead singer of the group. His cheerful voice and enthusiastic dance moves made him an instant star. With Michael as lead singer, the Jackson 5 became one of the most popular acts of the 1970s, selling millions of records and touring internationally.

Solo Career Takeoff

In 1971, Michael launched his solo career while continuing to perform with his brothers as the Jackson 5. His solo tracks and albums with the group, including “Got to Be There,” “Rockin’ Robin,” “Ben,” and “Music & Me,” enjoyed commercial success.

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In 1978, Michael starred as the Scarecrow in the smash musical film “The Wiz” alongside Diana Ross and joined the ranks of other pop stars branching into acting. The musical score produced the hit song “Ease on Down the Road,” sung as a duet between Jackson and Ross.

Jackson reached the pinnacle of his early solo career with his sixth album, “Off the Wall,” in 1979. An infectious dance-pop album produced by industry legend Quincy Jones yielded smash hits like “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Rock With You.” “Off the Wall” is considered one of the greatest albums ever and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.

The Thriller Phenomenon

In 1982, Michael released “Thriller,” widely regarded as the best-selling album of all time, with over 100 million units sold globally. Nearly every track on “Thriller” became a hit single, including “Billie Jean” and the title track.

The release of the “Thriller” short film in 1983, a 13-minute horror-themed music video directed by John Landis, further showcased Michael pushing the art form’s boundaries. His dance moves and red leather jacket became instantly iconic. At the peak of its popularity, nearly 50 million people watched “Thriller” repeatedly on MTV.

Jackson won a record-setting 8 Grammy Awards for his work on “Thriller,” which spent nearly 100 weeks on the Billboard album chart. The cultural impact of his music and videos solidified Jackson’s status as the “King of Pop” and one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century.

Commercial Success

While Jackson never replicated the stratospheric sales of “Thriller,” he continued releasing highly successful albums for the rest of the 1980s and into the 1990s, including “Bad,” “Dangerous,” and “HIStory.”

These albums spawned more smash hits such as “Man in the Mirror,” “Black or White,” “Remember the Time,” “In the Closet,” “Will You Be There,” “Scream” with sister Janet Jackson, and many more. During this era, Jackson pioneered increasingly extravagant, effects-filled concert tours and music videos befitting his royal moniker.

Business Ventures

Jackson invested his fortune in various business ventures. In 1985, he co-wrote and starred in a feature film, “Captain EO,” exclusively shown at Disney theme parks. The $30 million, 17-minute musical film directed by Francis Ford Coppola drew large crowds to parks for nearly two decades.

Jackson doubled down after losing bidding for publishing rights to the Beatles catalog in 1985. He acquired publishing rights to numerous song catalogs a few years later, including works by the Gershwins, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and others. This move ensured licensing rights and royalties from these legendary musicians, proving to be a wise long-term investment. His music publishing ventures have been estimated at over $100 million.

Personal Life

As Jackson’s fame grew exponentially during the 1980s, his personal life came under heavy media scrutiny. Rumors swirled about possible cosmetic procedures and transformations to his appearance and eccentric lifestyle. That includes acquiring exotic pets and building an amusement park at Neverland Ranch.

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Jackson inspired controversy in 1987 when public perception turned regarding his friendships with young boys, mainly two 13-year-old friends. No charges were ever filed, though Jackson’s reputation took a hit.

Michael Jackson Net Worth

Jackson had two high-profile short-term marriages. First, he married Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, from 1994 to 1996. Then he married dermatology nurse Deborah Jeanne Rowe from 1996 to 1999 – but both ended in amicable divorces.

He had two children with Rowe – son Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. (nicknamed Prince) and daughter Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson. Jackson later had a third child, Prince Michael Jackson II (nicknamed Blanket), via an anonymous surrogate mother.


In the 2000s, Jackson faced charges involving alleged inappropriate behavior with another young boy who stayed at Neverland Ranch. While Jackson disputed claims, the negative attention took its toll. After a lengthy legal battle, Jackson largely withdrew from public life before being acquitted of all charges in 2005.

Jackson returned to living at Neverland Ranch, but his finances were shambling due to mounting legal debts. He aimed to revive his career with a series of planned London concerts. But he could not see the endeavor to fruition.

On June 25, 2009, Jackson collapsed at home in cardiac arrest brought on by acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication. Despite CPR attempts by his physician, Jackson sadly passed away at just 50 years old. The shocking news of his premature death triggered an enormous outpouring of grief from fans globally.

FAQs on Michael Jackson Net Worth

What was Michael Jackson’s net worth at the height of his career?

Michael Jackson’s net worth was estimated at $500 million at the time of his death.

How much did Michael Jackson earn from album sales?

Michael Jackson’s album sales exceeded 1 billion in total worldwide. His 1982 album “Thriller” remains the best-selling album ever, with over 100 million copies sold globally.

What happened to Michael Jackson’s net worth before his death?

Jackson became embroiled in child abuse allegations, mounting legal troubles, and excessive spending, which significantly cut into his net worth. He took out several large loans and by the 2000s, his debts ran into the hundreds of millions.

Bottom Line

Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop’s” musical legacy, looms large over popular culture. Also, his business ventures still earn millions in licensing deals, music sales, and more yearly.

Michael Jackson’s net worth was estimated at $500 million at his death. While legal troubles and spending later cut into his wealth, Jackson’s name and likeness generated income a decade after his untimely passing. That secured his status as a pop icon for the ages.

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