LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson’s parents on Monday sought control over his children and an estate that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Concert promoters who backed the King of Pop’s highly anticipated comeback tour that was set to begin next week in London released photos of Jackson rehearsing for the shows. And a Los Angeles coroner said a report in a British tabloid claiming to be based on autopsy results was inaccurate.
Four days after the singer’s death from cardiac arrest, his father Joe Jackson said the family was awaiting results of a second, private autopsy, and he expected to get details “real soon.” He said a date for the funeral had not been set.
“We don’t have a timeframe for that (the funeral) because I want to see how this autopsy is coming out,” Joe Jackson told reporters after a family meeting at his home in Los Angeles.
Standing beside Joe Jackson outside the house — the site of a makeshift memorial of flowers and balloons — civil rights leader Al Sharpton said the family was being “careful and deliberate on how they plan the celebration of his life.”
Two autopsies have been carried out on Jackson — one by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office and a second by a private pathologist. Toxicology tests are expected to take several weeks.
Jackson, 50, died at his rented Los Angeles home on Thursday before a string of 50 concerts in London, starting July 13, that were planned to revive a career grounded by his 2005 trial and acquittal on child molestation charges.
On Monday, promoters AEG Live released four pictures from a June 23 dress rehearsal for the concerts, taken two days before Jackson’s death.
They show Jackson looking thin, but much like his typical singing and dancing self, performing on stage with dancers. AEG Live declined to comment on media reports that they had video footage of the rehearsals that could be released on DVD.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Monday approved the appointment of Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, as temporary guardian of Prince Michael, 12, Paris Katherine, 11, and Prince Michael II, 7, pending a hearing next week.
Lawyers for Katherine Jackson also sought to make her the administrator of Jackson’s estate, which would essentially give her control of money generated from sales of his records and business ventures in which he was involved.
Jackson has been said to be as much as $500 million in debt when he died, but his estate has been estimated at $1 billion or more and is likely to rise following his death. Court papers list the value of the estate as “unknown.”
His two eldest children were with ex-wife Debbie Rowe and the third is from an unidentified surrogate mother. In court papers, Katherine Jackson said the children had “no relationship with their biological mother.”
It was unclear whether Rowe would also seek custody of the children.
“Whoever has ultimate custody of these children, who are probably going to be the beneficiaries of his estate, will get control of his money to care for the children. So to that extent, whoever the permanent guardian will be will have tremendous sums of money to take care of the children,” entertainment attorney Jerry Reisman told Reuters.
Court papers filed by Katherine Jackson indicated the “Thriller” singer died without a will, but some media reports said a former Jackson lawyer, John Branca, possessed a will signed by the pop star. Branca did not return calls on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles coroner’s office dismissed as inaccurate a report in Britain’s Sun newspaper which said Jackson was almost bald, emaciated and that his hips, thighs and shoulders were riddled with needle wounds when he died.
Assistant chief coroner Ed Winter said the details did not come from the private or county autopsies. “I don’t know where that information came from, or who that information came from. It is not accurate. Some of it is totally false,” he said.
Sharpton said the family was moved by the outpouring of love for Jackson.
Since Jackson’s death, sales of his hit songs have soared. For the week ended Sunday, 143 of his recordings totaled 67,383 radio plays in the United States — up 1,735 percent from the week before, according to Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte