In Depth

Michael Jackson ‘alive’: five conspiracy theories about his death

The world was left reeling by the King of Pop’s passing in 2009 - but some believe it never happened

Michael Jackson’s death at the age of 50 in June 2009 shocked thousands of fans worldwide but others are asking whether it was all an elaborate show.

Jackson conspiracy theorists, known as “believers”, have long claimed that the singer is still alive, having faked his own death.

In early 2017, investment banker David Dunn took the stand in the US Tax Court in Los Angeles and said Jackson was “on the edge” of going bankrupt before his death - fuelling theories that the pop legend may simply have changed his identity in order to escape his financial problems.

In July last year, Hollywood hairdresser Steve Erhardt, who was a close friend of Jackson, claimed he had information about the star that “not even the family knows”.

In a post on Facebook, Erhardt wrote: “A tip for the believers, the Michael Jackson believers. You heard it here first, an announcement of sorts.

“And in a couple of months, or latest at the end of the year, you will be receiving some very good news. It’s almost unbelievable. And not even the family knows… but I do.”

No more news was forthcoming from Erhardt, but believers insist Jackson must simply have decided to remain in hiding. 

Here are four more conspiracy theories about the King of Pop’s death.

Jackson's daughter thinks he was murdered

In 2017, Paris Jackson told Rolling Stone magazine that she was convinced her father had been murdered.

“All arrows point to that. It sounds like a total conspiracy theory and it sounds like bullshit, but all real fans and everybody in the family knows it. It was a set-up. It was bullshit,” she said.

Some online conspiracy theorists questioned whether she was pointing to a group such as the Illuminati.

Jackson’s will wasn’t signed by him

In 2012, five of the singer’s brothers and sisters - Janet, Rebbie, Randy, Tito and Jermaine - signed a letter to the executors of Jackson’s estate, John Branca and John McClain, accusing the pair of fraud, forgery, exploitation and abuse. The letter was published on gossip site Celebuzz.

Jackson’s siblings claimed that he was not in Los Angeles on the day his will was dated, 7 July 2002, and therefore could not have signed it. They also claimed that Jackson said he despised Branca and McClain and didn’t want them to have anything to do with his life.

Representatives for his estate responded: “We are saddened that false and defamatory accusations grounded in stale internet conspiracy theories are now being made by certain members of Michael’s family whom he chose to leave out of his will.”

Jackson was killed for his music catalogue

La Toya Jackson has repeatedly said there was a conspiracy to kill her brother and that he knew he was going to die. He reportedly told her: “La Toya, I’m going to be murdered for my music publishing catalogue and my estate.”

Last year The Sun reported the existence of a note allegedly written by Jackson just weeks before his death that appears to support this theory. The note read: “They are trying to murder me.” Jackson continued that he was '“scared about his life” and that “the system wants to kill me for my catalogue”, according to the newspaper.

Jackson killed himself with drugs

On 28 August 2009, the LA County Coroner made an official statement classifying Jackson’s death as homicide. The coroner stated that he died from the combination of drugs in his body, including anesthetic propofol that Jackson’s personal doctor Conrad Murray had been giving him to treat sleep problems for two months prior to his death. Murray was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 and was sentenced to two years in jail.

Before his trial, Murray’s lawyer claimed that the singer “took desperate measures” because of his deteriorating finances. However, the judge refused Murray’s request for Jackson’s financial records.

Lawyer Howard Weitzman, representing the singer’s estate, asked: "Is the theory that Michael Jackson committed suicide, took his own life? I don't think that’s a salable theory."

A law enforcement official told ABC News that the star was “heavily addicted” to the painkiller OxyContin and was injected daily with that medication, along with Demerol.

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