Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Los Angeles (Reuters): Michael Jackson, who earlier this year shuttered his Neverland Valley Ranch in California, will move to Europe to reignite a musical career stalled by his sex abuse trial, a spokeswoman for the pop star has said. Jackson, who has been living in Bahrain since his acquittal on child molestation charges in June of 2005, has also severed ties with his longtime business managers as part of a ''sweeping restructuring'' of his affairs, spokeswoman Raymone Bain said.
''He's just decided that with all of the projects he's going to be involved with and all of the people he's beginning to work with in the music industry, it's easier (to live in Europe),'' Bain said. ''He'll be going back and forth to Bahrain but Europe will be his principal residence.'' Jackson had not yet settled on a specific European location, Bain said. He had named her his ''general manager'' and hired New York-based attorney L. Londell McMillan to oversee his business and legal affairs, she said.
The 47-year-old entertainer, who has made few public appearances since the end of his sensational trial, had previously announced plans to release an album in 2007 and was considering a tour. His last studio album was 2001's ''Invincible'' although he has released several hit collections since then.
Bain said Jackson had no plans to sell Neverland, a 2,800-acre (1,130-hectare) ranch in the California foothills where he was accused of molesting a young cancer patient. State authorities ordered Jackson to close Neverland earlier this year and fined him more than $100,000 for failing to pay the staff there or maintain proper insurance. Bain said the self-styled King of Pop now maintains the sprawling estate with a small staff.
''He still owns Neverland and he's still providing the funding for its upkeep,'' she said. ''I'm sure at some point in time he will move back to Neverland, that's not out of the question. It's not in the immediate future but it's not far-fetched.'' Bain said Jackson has been visiting Ireland and France, where he took his children to the Disneyland resort in Paris, and ''having a number of meetings charting out his musical future and his career.''
Prosecutors asserted during Jackson's sex abuse trial that the former child star, who ruled the pop charts in the 1980s with such albums as ''Thriller'' and ''Bad,'' had fallen on hard times and was in precarious financial shape due to mounting debts. In April, Jackson reached a deal to refinance more than 200 million dollar in loans secured by his prized stake in the Beatles' song catalog.