Michael Jackson’s burial was delayed for nearly three months due to wrangling between Janet Jackson and her brother’s estate, a detail revealed in a November Vanity Fair–exclusive excerpt of Untouchable, Randall Sullivan’s Michael Jackson biography, which will be published next month. According to Sullivan, Janet put up the $40,000 deposit at Forest Lawn to secure a spot for Michael but refused to let the funeral take place until the money was repaid.
Ronald Williams, of Talon Executive Services—a private-security company that dispatched a team to Michael Jackson’s rented château in Holmby Hills on the night of his death—tells Sullivan that hours after Jackson died, La Toya and her boyfriend, Jeffre Phillips, arrived at the house demanding to be admitted. “We’re family and we should have access to the house,” they reportedly said.
Sullivan reports that mother Katherine Jackson also arrived that night and entered the house, where she telephoned Grace Rwaramba, the recently terminated longtime nanny to Michael’s children. According to Rwaramba, Katherine said, “Grace, the children are crying. They are asking about you. They can’t believe that their father died. Grace, you remember Michael used to hide cash at the house? I’m here. Where can it be?” Rwaramba described Michael’s standard practice of hiding his cash in black plastic garbage bags and under the carpets. Talon describes seeing La Toya and her boyfriend loading black plastic garbage bags into duffel bags and placing them in the garage. (La Toya insists that nearly all of Michael’s money was gone by the time she arrived at the Holmby Hills house.)
The next morning, Janet Jackson arrived with a moving van and demanded to be admitted. A few hours later, the truck exited through the front gate with Jeffre Phillips at the wheel. Katherine Jackson and her daughters made it clear that they wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon. “They camped out for most of a week,” Williams tells Sullivan, leaving and returning “whenever they felt like it.”
Katherine Jackson’s representatives shared details of her recent “abduction” with Sullivan, who describes what happened from her perspective for the first time. One of Katherine Jackson’s representatives tells Sullivan that it was Janet Jackson who on July 14, 2012, arranged for Dr. Allen Metzger to go to the Calabasas mansion, where her mother had been living with Michael’s three children. Metzger was introduced as an associate of Mrs. Jackson’s longtime Beverly Hills physician and told that her doctor wanted her to have a physical before she went to Albuquerque for her sons’ Unity Tour. After a brief examination, Metzger told Katherine Jackson that her blood pressure was elevated and that it would be best for her not to make the trip to New Mexico by car as she had planned. Katherine left the next morning with her daughter Rebbie and her granddaughter Stacee Brown and Mrs. Jackson’s personal assistant. It wasn’t until they arrived at the airport that Katherine realized they weren’t headed to Albuquerque but rather to Tucson, where she was booked at the Miraval Resort & Spa. Janet Jackson was there when she arrived.
The representative tells Sullivan that Dr. Metzger had no association with Mrs. Jackson’s physician and that she had not sent him to see Mrs. Jackson. Dr. Metzger was, in fact, the same doctor who had been called as a defense witness at the trial of Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of providing the drugs that killed Michael Jackson. He had also been reprimanded by the state medical board for writing prescriptions for Janet Jackson under false or fictitious names.
Katherine’s grandson T. J. Jackson, and others who were looking after Michael’s children at his Calabasas home, soon deduced that the five Jackson siblings—who that same week had sent a letter to Michael’s executors asking them to resign and claiming that their mother had suffered a mini-stroke—now reportedly with Katherine in their custody were, in the view of Mrs. Jackson’s representatives, attempting to gain a conservatorship over her, possibly by demonstrating her incompetence to serve as guardian of Michael’s children. They hoped to gain control of their brother’s fortune, which would follow Prince, Paris, and Blanket wherever they went.
Sullivan explores the question of how John Branca, a lawyer who was fired by Michael Jackson in 2003—and is now earning tens of millions of dollars as an executor of the Michael Jackson estate—managed to retain possession of a will he should have handed over with all of Jackson’s papers to a new attorney, David LeGrand. “I had access to every file and I had to go through them,” LeGrand tells Sullivan. “And I did. There was no will. There was no trust. It just showed up after he died.” (Branca, though his attorney, declined to comment.)
– Vanity Fair