In a bizarre story of international friendships gone awry, Sheikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, second son to the King of Bahrain, is suing Michael Jackson in a British court for the sum of $7 million.
Jackson had previously purchased Bahrain ‘s former Prime Minister's mansion, and had called himself “increasingly Bahraini" while living there in 2005. He was a guest of the sheikh, and wore a traditional Muslim veil, the black “abaya" which gave him and his children a perfect shot at relative anonymity. Bahrain appeared to enjoy the notoriety.
This was around the time of his child-molestation trial, from which he was acquitted, and for which the sheikh paid $1 million up front and another $2.2 million in legal fees. Michael Jackson's lawyer calls this a gift, and the sheikh calls it a loan. (However, the sheikh also reports paying $450k for Jackson ‘s brother Jermain Friday to visit Bahrain and buy a Rolls Royce; the sheikh calls that a gift and has not asked for it to be returned. )
The two also jointly owned a record label, 2 Seas Group (a reference to " Bahrain " meaning " Two Seas “), through which Michael Jackson was expected to produce songs, an autobiography, and a stage play. This was a “combined rights agreement" which apparently Jackson backed out of, after the sheikh had incurred $7 million in expenses toward the project. The agreement specified that the expenses would be paid back out of Jackson ‘s royalties. Since the project never went forward, legal teams argue that the $7 million is a loss on an aborted business venture, not a loan that needs to be paid back.
In 2006, Jackson moved from Bahrain to Las Vegas, apparently becoming significantly less Bahraini than he had been the previous year, or perhaps just for irony; a Bahraini cleric had expressed worry that Jackson would “turn Bahrain into Las Vegas. " It's unclear what his friendship with the sheik was like after the move, though the sheikh claims that they were still close personal friends. He did agree that Jackson was a “vulnerable person, " though didn't agree with Jackson ‘s lawyer's assessment that the singer was “not exactly an astute businessman. " They claim that the funds for the legal trial and for the abortive music deal were gifts, and are now being claimed as loans due to the sheikh's “mistake, misrepresentation and undue influence. "
For the King of Pop with a music career spanning a half-century, one is tempted to agree that a man who needs a $7 million loan and can't pay it back is probably not an astute businessman. Jackson ‘s nanny testified that received a $1 million wire transfer from the sheikh because the singer didn't have any money; possibly this was because he was having a nanny pay his bills.
Jackson tried to remain in Los Angeles during the trial, having petitioned the court to appear through a video link rather than traveling to London due to health concerns, though his doctor eventually cleared him to travel over the weekend. The health concerns, whatever they are, didn't prevent him from going through a ceremony to convert to Islam at a friend's house in Los Angeles. He changed his name to Mikaeel. . . The final chapter of this novella does not seem to be any closer and I honestly doubt it will ever come to any satisfactory conclusion.
For more information on Bahrain, visit http://www.bahrainmicroblog.com For more information on legal matters, visit http://www.legalmicroblog.com