A son of the king of Bahrain is suing U.S. pop star Michael Jackson for backtracking on an agreement to record a new album and write an autobiography as repayment for the millions of dollars in loans he received from the prince, press reported Monday.
"Sheikh Abdullah began to support Mr. Jackson financially after 2005 when it became clear that Mr. Jackson was in very serious financial difficulties, much to Sheikh Abdullah's surprise," Khalifa's lawyer, Bankim Thanki, told London's High Court.
The two men had a "close personal relationship," and even discussed the possibility of Jackson moving to Bahrain after his 2005 child sexual molestation trial, Thanki said.
The court heard that the sheikh forked out $35,000 to pay utility bills at Jackson's Neverland Ranch and also gave him one million dollars in April 2005 after Jackson asked for the money through an assistant.
"Sheikh Abdulla made many more payments on his behalf or to others," including Jackson's $2.2 million legal bill for his criminal trial, he said.
The early financial support coincided with Jackson's 2005 trial on child molestation charges. Despite his acquittal, the case left the 50-year-old performer's reputation and financial status in tatters.
Sheikh Abdullah began to support Mr. Jackson financially after 2005 when it became clear that Mr. Jackson was in very serious financial difficulties, much to Sheikh Abdullah's surprise.
A royal guest
Jackson spent time in Bahrain as a guest of the royal family following the trial, and in April 2006 a statement was released on behalf of Bahrain music label Two Seas Records announcing he would record a new album for release in 2007.
The sheikh planned to revive Jackson's musical career, releasing records through their own label -- including a song recorded the day after his trial ended, which the sheikh wanted released to help victims of the 2004 tsunami.
The sheikh is suing the pop legend for allegedly reneging on a $7 million "pay-back" agreement designed to repay money he advanced to Jackson during his financial troubles.
He said he and Jackson entered into a "combined rights agreement" under which the star was committed to a recording contract, an autobiography and a musical stage play.
But Jackson contests that there was no valid agreement and that the sheikh's case was based on "mistake, misrepresentation and undue influence."
In his pleaded defense, Jackson said the payments he received were "gifts" and that no project was ever finalized.
At the start of a court hearing set for up to 12 days, the judge heard that an application would be made for Jackson to give evidence via video link from Los Angeles, California.