A U.S. tax court judge has ruled that Michael Jackson‘s image and likeness was worth just $4.2 million at the time of his death in 2009.
The Internal Revenue Service had valued Jackson’s likeness at $161 million and alleged that the estate had underpaid its tax obligation.
The ruling by Judge Mark V. Holmes of the United States Tax Court on Monday will significantly reduce the tax burden incurred by the pop king’s heirs.
Holmes noted that Jackson had earned nothing from licensing his name and likeness in the years preceding his death.
“This cannot be a surprise — allegations that a celebrity molested little boys might reasonably be thought to repel potential licensees in any society that has not become completely decadent,” Holmes wrote in the 271 page ruling.
He added, “Those allegations had a dramatic effect on Jackson’s ability to win sponsorships and merchandising deals once they became public.”
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