LONDON: The son of an Arab monarch took the King of Pop to court Monday, charging that Michael Jackson took $7 million as an advance on an album and an autobiography that he never produced.
Lawyers for Sheikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa say their client paid Jackson expenses as an advance on the book and joint recording project with the sheikh, who is an amateur songwriter. Jackson claims the money was a gift.
Al Khalifa, 33, was due to testify at London's Royal Courts of Justice Wednesday.
Jackson's lawyer Robert Englehart said he was seeking permission to have Jackson testify by video link from Los Angeles.
A lawyer for Al Khalifa said the royal first spoke to Jackson, 50, by telephone while the singer was on trial in California following his 2003 arrest on child molestation charges.
Attorney Bankim Thanki said that Al Khalifa wanted to work with Jackson on rebuilding his career. Jackson's finances fell apart after his arrest and he was desperately short of cash.
Al Khalifa's first payment, for $35,000, went toward paying the utility bills at Neverland, Jackson's 2,500-acre (1,000 hectare) ranch and miniature amusement park in California, Thanki said.
When Jackson was found innocent of the molestation charges in June 2005, Al Khalifa footed $2.2 million in legal bills, the lawyer said.
Al Khalifa said he believed the money would be repaid once Jackson's career recovered from the damaging trial.
‘I saw the payment as an investment in Michael's potential,’ the sheikh in a statement he read out in court. ‘He said he would pay me back ... through our work together.’
Al Khalifa moved Jackson and his entourage to Bahrain almost immediately after the trial, setting up a recording studio for him in Manama, the Gulf state's capital.
The singer stayed nearly a year in Bahrain as a guest of the son, but the relationship soured when Jackson repudiated a business deal Thanki said they had agreed to.
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