Sunday, June 28, 2009

MJ concert organiser faces the music

S Kalyana Ramanathan / London June 28, 2009

Michael Jackson’s death is turning into a nightmare for the organiser of “This is It”, the 50-concert gig of the pop icon scheduled to have begun on July 13 at London’s famous The O2 Arena. While refund of the 750,000 tickets seems inevitable at this stage, the financial implication of the canceled tour is far from clear. Some experts have estimated the loss could be upwards of £50 million.

UK’s popular tabloid The Sun today reported that “the promoter AEG Live now faces the prospect of a £300million black hole in its finances. Jacko’s death has hit it with a £51million bill for ticket refunds”.

AEG, in a statement issued after Jackson’s death, said, “On behalf of the entire AEG organisation, we extend our deepest condolences to Jackson’s family and friends during this tragic time. Full ticket refund information and procedures will be released early next week for all Jackson “This Is It” shows. Fans are advised to hold on to their ticket vouchers/proof of purchase.”

When Jackson’s London tour was made official in March, ticket sales for the July shows broke new records. It was estimated that ticket sales were in the order of 11 per second, 657 per minute and nearly 40,000 an hour.

It was reported that third party sales of tickets on auction sites like ebay were ranging between £75 and £10,000., one of the official channels selling the tickets, said, “We would like to reassure you that your Jackson ticket purchase is fully covered by our TicketCover guarantee. You can claim your complete refund by downloading our claim form...”

The show was also expected to resurrect the personal finances of the debt-ridden singer who was expected to make £50 million for his London performances.

Late Friday evening, AEG Live President & CEO Randy Phillips had said in a statement: “Yesterday was a day I will never forget, or want to remember. Jackson was weak and strong, clever and kind, talented beyond belief and equally insecure. He was a doting father, respectful son, loving brother, and caring uncle. He was my friend. I take great solace in the pride and confidence he exhibited during production rehearsals on Wednesday night. That is the memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

An AEG spokesperson said the updated ticketing statement will be issued later. It could not be ascertained if AEG had insured itself against such an event.

Photo: Bloomberg

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