(2 of 2)
Since then, the children have maintained what seems to be a remarkably grounded existence under the watchful eye of grandmother Katherine. By most accounts they are well-bred kids who love fairy tales, computers and their regular karate classes. Family friend Steve Manning recalls giving Paris a book when staying with the Jacksons earlier this month. Hours later, he found a thank-you note from the girl in his room. "Michael raised three beautiful, unpretentious children who are wonderful," he says.
Even Jackson's notoriously precarious financial situation is being burnished. In the last years of his life, the King of Pop's extravagant lifestyle from the $5 million annual upkeep on his Neverland ranch to his bizarre spending habits (a $250,000 antique shopping spree in Beverly Hills in 2003 and a $1 million appearance fee paid to Marlon Brando in 2001, for starters) began to outpace the continued profits from his career. The slide was only abetted by the millions of dollars in legal settlements and fees Jackson paid following the child-molestation cases brought against him. By the mid-1990s, Michael was forced to sell 50% of his stake in the Beatles catalog to Sony for $100 million to help balance his books. By 2009, his debt had helped push the increasingly reclusive icon into signing up for his first extended concert run in over a decade, aptly named This Is It. Jackson died less than three weeks before the curtain was to go up on the first show.
But in the 365 days since his death, the nostalgia for Jackson has turned into even bigger business: in the year since he died, the Jackson estate has earned an estimated $250 million, according to the Associated Press. This has included a posthumous deal to sell unreleased Jackson recordings with Sony Music, which has already brought $125 million to the estate. Sony Music has sold more than 31 million Jackson albums since he died, shocking for a music industry and a performer in decline.
The estate's finances have also been helped in part thanks to the $54 million it received from Sony for the rights to This Is It. Ironically perhaps, Jackson's financial situation is also improving because its single largest revenue drain the pop star's extraordinary spending is now out of the equation. Executors used the money to aggressively pay down Jackson's staggering debt, including the $5 million mortgage on the Jackson's sprawling family compound in Encino, Calif.
The extended Jackson family gathered at the compound last week to celebrate the high school graduation of two of Michael's nephews. "That party is something that's put together for every Jackson kid that graduates from school. There is usually a reunion," Michael's brother Tito tells TIME. This year, it's also a time for mourning. Tito admits his admiration for Michael, like most of the world's, has grown since his passing. "We see him in a whole different light now. Although we knew what he stood for, now we see the full package. We're so proud of him."