Quincy Jones Claims He’s Owed $30 Million From Michael Jackson Recordings

Quincy Jones
Eric Charbonneau/REX/Shutterstock

Quincy Jones is owed about $30 million in unpaid royalties from Michael Jackson’s estate, the veteran producer’s attorney told a jury on Tuesday.

Attorney Mike McKool delivered his opening argument in the trial, which is now underway in Los Angeles Superior Court. McKool said that before Jackson’s death in 2009, Jones had received his customary royalties from producing three albums: “Off the Wall,” “Thriller,” and “Bad.”

But, McKool argued that that changed when Jackson died and the singer’s estate took control of his finances. Jackson’s death brought a surge of interest in his catalog, and the estate reaped an increased share of the royalties from his hit songs. But Jones was not allowed to share in the bounty, McKool contended, and indeed was not even informed of the increased royalties until after filing suit in 2013.


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“He hasn’t been adjusted as Michael was adjusted,” McKool told the jury.

McKool also contends that Jones was shorted on his share of the profits from “This Is It,” the behind-the-scenes concert documentary released after Jackson’s death. McKool said the film made use of Jackson’s original recordings, but that Jones was not given an adequate share of the licensing fee. McKool said the film grossed more than $500 million, of which the estate took $90 million, but that Jones was paid only $455,000.

Zia Modabber, the attorney for Jackson’s estate, countered in his opening argument that Jones has been richly rewarded for his producing work even after Jackson’s death.

“We believe the evidence will show that Mr. Jones is not entitled to anything but a fraction of the money he’s after,” Modabber said. Since Jackson’s death, he said, “Mr. Jones has been paid over $18 million, and he will make millions more.”

Modabber showed the jury a 10-minute clip of “This Is It” before the trial broke for lunch.

Following the lunch break, Modabber concluded his opening argument by contending that Jones was properly paid, and is not owed additional money from Sony’s joint venture with Jackson.

“He didn’t get paid any of the money Michael was going to get because he didn’t do any of the work,” Modabber said. “Mr. Jones is asking for tens and tens of millions of dollars. He just wants it and he hopes you will give it to him.”

John Branca, Jackson’s longtime attorney and now the co-executor of his estate, was the first witness. Under questioning from Jones’ lawyer, Branca said the estate had offered Jones $2 million to $3 million to settle the case, which is what he believed Jones is owed.

Branca and Jones’ lawyer sparred over the definition of a “videoshow” in Jones’ contract, with Branca claiming it pertained to music videos and not to movies such as “This Is It” or life performances such as Cirque du Soleil.

“It was never our practice to cheat … Mr. Jones,” Branca testified, as the debate became heated. “You’re creating a false impression.”

Branca acknowledged that the estate had erred by failing to give Jones a credit for “This Is It.”

The trial is expected to last about three weeks. Jones will likely testify next week.

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    1. Anonymous says:

      I Do Believe Quincy should’ve gotten a share of the money ESPECIALLY If Quincy Produced Most of Michael’s Hit Songs. Yes, Michael Sang them but They Wouldn’t Have Existed If Quincy Didn’t Find The Right People For Michael. Michael, himself, stated that Quincy was like a Father to him and He loved him. Why Not Give Him The Share He Deserves? I Honestly Wish Michael Had Someone Else in Charge Of His Estate. His Legacy Should Be kept Alive Making Posthumous Albums or Holographic Concerts, Not Going to Court over Royalties Or Some Damn Halloween Cartoon. I’m Disappointed and I’m Sure Michael Is Also.

    2. BradPenny says:

      To be a producer means almost nothing.
      Michael Jackson sang all the songs
      Michael Jackson danced on all music videos or live performances
      Michael Jackson has been the star who created the iconic figure he is
      …. NOT Quincy!
      That Quincy who did not want BILLIE JEAN to be on Thriller album!
      That Billie Jean song that MIchael Jackson composed and that is one of the most iconic songs in history.

      I have found more developed and original HIStory album than BAD…., and HIStory album is still the best selling double album of all time.

      Thriller is based on Billie Jean, Beat it, Thriller and Human Nature

    3. Spb says:

      John Branca is a smart, decent man. Quincy Jones is the same. The problems here are with the rest of the estate. Pay Q what he’s due.

    4. This is ridiculous. Jones is rich. He’s old and Michael is dead, his kids are here. Let it go.

    5. Rick says:

      How did mj end up like this where were these people to take care of his health and well being none of them deserve anything they watched and helped him kill himself, he looked like an f ng skeleton, and yet they pushed him for money knowing he was killing himself
      they are all evil exploitative scum.

    6. Does Quincy Jones know about the sexual abuse mj suffered as a child in the music industry? Even a family member allowing it to happen? How much is enough by those mj trusted, and looked up to?

    7. Denise says:

      From personal experience, Q is a really honorable man;, I would trust him & the contract over the greed of the MJ estate & its Executors. He deserves what was negotiated in good faith, and was one of the few true friends who helped guide Michael to staggering new heights.

    8. Mark O'Neill says:

      You know, Quincy Jones wrote the Sandford and Son theme song and released it as a single – before it was picked-up to be the theme song. He also had his dna tested on Oprah and he’s 25% white.

    9. Kitcha says:

      The old buzzards are still trying to get meat off dead Michale Jackson’s bones…

    10. mclowe says:

      McKool? That’s almost as good as McLOVIN!

    11. Sparky Jones says:

      Jill: Sadly the comment section reflects the idiocy prevalent in our degenerating society.
      Wow…..such stupidity in a human is distasteful

      Such distaste as yours is stupid.

    12. Shirley says:

      Pay the man. Michael knew he deserved his paydays.

    13. Jim says:

      You don’t know what you are talking about. Without Quincy Jones there would not have been the Michael Jackson you know of. Do your homework before you start dissing Mr. Jones.

      • Fezelah says:

        First of all I want to give all of the praises to God for creating Katherine and Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson, the Jackson’s 5. Michael’s beautiful parents Katherine, Joe Jackson had gave birth to the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson. Katherine and Joe had produced the greatest R&B group forevermore. The Jackson’s 5 are a natural talent, there is no group that can sing and dance like them. However, most of the group try to emulate the Jackson’s.

        Therefore, I believe that Quicy Jones had already received his credits, monetary awards before Michael’s death. Suddenly, Quincy Jones wakes up one day and realized that he did not get paid? This is improper and disrespectful to Michael’s family.

        • Jolie Adams says:

          Quincy was still receiving regular royalty payments, but, according to the article, they were not accurately reflecting the large increase in sales following Jackson’s death.

    14. slickitytrick says:

      Nothing wrong with Quincy getting what he deserves, business is business. Something tells me the scum sucking lawyers will take the bulk of it.

    15. barack says:

      Vulture …picking over a corpse.

    16. Briefman says:

      OLD MAN get off the stage you greedy bastard! How many kids by different women? Karma will get you in the end, you brothers have no honor!

    17. give it a shot says:

      Hey Quincy, me too. How can I piggyback on your lawsuit and get me some Benjamins?

    18. The Truth says:

      Throw up on yourself. Michael knew the value of Quincy’s creative contributions to his recordings, and while MJ was alive, Q’s well-earned royalties were promptly paid. Since Jackson’s death, the estate has gone to the bank on income earned in part by Jones’s work without honoring the provisions of the contracts with Jones. The Jackson estate has made repeated attempts to lowball a settlement, but haven’t come near what Quincy is rightfully owed. The only real question is what fraction the estate will end up paying him.

    19. The estate says:

      Uhhh, Mr Jones we regret to inform you the money is gone, spent on Whammo water slides , Tiffany Teddy Bears,& 2 headed giraffes, and such.

    20. Jim says:

      Sadly the comment section reflects the idiocy prevalent in our degenerating society.
      Wow…..such stupidity in a human is distasteful

    21. Hey Quincy….if the dead guy didn’t pay after the first album went triple platinum, shame on them.
      But after the second went triple platinum and you didn’t get paid, you’re an idiot.
      By the time you were involved in the third album, you were in need of a good attorney and a personal mental evaluation.

    22. Canes58 says:

      canj’t you money grubbing leave his kids alone! we have his family living off his estate we now have you quincy who i thought had more class with the money you have to go after more than you need! people are evil, sad

    23. Tommy Jefferson says:

      I believe Quincy. In large part, he made MJ who he is.

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