By Sam P.K. Collins
In the week leading up to what would have been Michael Jackson’s 61st birthday, a former spokeswoman for the late King of Pop announced the launch of a foundation she says will fulfill his philanthropic vision, as articulated to her and outlined in a secret, unsubstantiated will.
The announcement, made during a Thursday morning press conference at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in northwest D.C., comes amid an ongoing legal battle between the spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain, and the Jackson estate. It also followed her first public response to the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which featured two men alleging sexual abuse by Jackson during their childhood.
“This is a mandate to preserve and defend Michael Jackson’s name,” Bain said in reference to what’s been revealed as the Michael Jackson Legacy Foundation.
She broke the news before an audience of entertainment industry mavens, reporters and community members.
While no funds have been dedicated to the Michael Jackson Legacy Foundation yet, Bain expressed a desire to embark on this endeavor independent of the Michael Jackson estate. She said future plans will involve the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center and Heal the World Foundation, the late Jackson’s brainchild to be resurrected by his son Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., also known as Prince Jackson.
“[Jackson] might no longer be with us, but we’re hoping that he will continue to live among us,” Bain said. “I won’t mention the name of his accusers, but these new revelations were timed for the beginning of the tenth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. I believe this was to derail anything in his honor.”
In 2006, a year after a California court acquitted Jackson on all charges of child molestation involving a 13-year-old boy, he appointed Bain as his personal general manager and president/COO of the Michael Jackson Company. Bain later served as his music licensing agent and partial owner of the Michael Jackson Company.
Three years later, on June 25, Jackson died in what the Los Angeles County Coroner later called a homicide. At the time of his death, he had been preparing for a litany of comeback concerts scheduled for 2009 and 2010.
Jackson, one of the best-selling artists of all time, boasted global record sales of more than 350 million, including that of “Thriller.” He had also won several awards for his music and choreography.
Not long after Jackson’s death, Bain filed a $44 million lawsuit against the Michael Jackson Company for breach of contract, which the court later rejected, even with an appeal.
In 2016, much to Bain’s chagrin, Jackson’s estate sold a 50 percent share of his music catalogue, which includes music by the Beatles, to Sony Music, By early 2017, Jackson’s mother, Catherine Jackson, joined the lawsuit for a 15 percent stake in the Michael Jackson Company.
During Thursday’s press conference, Bain didn’t divulge many details about the ongoing litigation.
In response to her announcement, an estate spokesperson said Bain has no authorization to launch a foundation in Jackson’s name or use his likeness for any other means. However, the estate espoused support for Bain’s call to boycott HBO for airing “Leaving Neverland.”
Since its early March release, “Leaving Neverland” has earned five Emmys and a TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in News and Information. The production also drew the ire of Jackson’s family and fans, with the Michael Jackson Foundation lobbing a $100 million lawsuit against HBO. By April, HBO denied rumors that it would pull “Leaving Neverland” from its lineup.
But for Bain, the damage to Jackson’s reputation had been done. In supporting the Michael Jackson Legacy Foundation, Jackson’s fans could change the tide, she said Thursday.
“2019 is the year we should be celebrating the sheer genius and generosity of a man I knew to be gentle, kind, humble, spiritual, and sincere,” Bain said. “He was a trailblazer [and] humanitarian who gave $300 million away to various charities. He was a man who opened doors and helped influence music and musicians. He was one of the first in the industry to give to the NAACP [and] AIDS research.
“Through his friend Elizabeth Taylor, he supported the LGBT community before it was organized,” she said. “He wanted to open libraries in underserved communities. He was a man who I know based on his spiritual fiber and pedigree would be incapable of hurting a child.”
This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.