Michael Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, actor, producer and philanthropist. Technically speaking, one could argue that at the time of his death, Michael was in debt to the tune of $500 million thanks to decades of overspending and over-borrowing.

In the decade between 1985-1995, Michael Jackson comfortably earned between $50 and $100 million per year through touring, record sales, endorsements and merchandise.

Even after his death, Jackson has remained one of the most popular and profitable celebrities in the world.

To date he has sold over 750 million albums, including 35 million that were sold in the year following his death.

Michael's most valuable asset was his music catalogue. While the copyright value of his own songs was estimated to be worth $100 million, the crown jewel of his net worth was his portfolio of other artist's songs, especially those from The Beatles. 

Michael's first foray into owning music rights began when he purchased the catalogues of Sly and the Family Stone in the early 1980s. 

He then bought a series of classic singles like "Great Balls of Fire", "Shake Rattle Rattle and Roll", "When a Man Loves a Woman" and "Runaround Sue" to name a few.

But the biggest win came in November 1984 when Michael purchased The Beatles catalogue ATV music for $47.5 million.