How much will Michael Jackson's death cost Phil Anschutz?

A lot of people stand to make a lot of money from Michael Jackson's death -- record labels, iTunes, memorabilia manufacturers and more. But don't count Phil Anschutz among their number. The Denver-based billionaire is among the sharpest businessmen ever to call Colorado home, yet he's all but guaranteed to take a very unpleasant bath on Jackson's fifty-date "This Is It" European tour, which was slated to get underway on July 13. (The "This Is It" website is now a cyber-memorial.) Back in March, Reinsurance, a trade magazine, reported that AEG Live, the Anschutz-owned promotion wing that backed the dates, was only able to secure insurance for the first ten -- and Jackson's press conference announcing the jaunt (viewable above) didn't bolster confidence that he'd be strong enough to complete such a grueling schedule. As noted in this roundup by The Daily Swarm, London's Daily Mail raised questions about whether the speaker at the press event was a Jackson imposter given his "impossibly square chin" and lower-than-normal speaking voice.

More recently, a Denver Post article cited a June interview in which AEG Live chief executive Randy Phillips said insurance had been secured for 23 out of fifty "This Is It" dates -- certainly better than the ten gigs reported a few months earlier. If that's the best AEG could manage, however, it could still lose tens of millions of dollars. Losses in that range would hardly bankrupt Anschutz, but they'd certainly give him another (very big) reason to mourn Jackson's passing.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts