Michael Jackson’s private family funeral was fit for a king and had a price tag to match: roughly $1 million, according to court documents released Tuesday.
Although Jackson died in June and had a large public tribute at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in July, the private family funeral held Sept. 3 appeared to have been arranged with urgency.
Legal requests for payments filed with estate administrators by attorneys for Michael Jackson’s mother only three days before the scheduled burial noted that if payment was not received by the funeral home and the Glendale Police Department by Sept. 1, “the funeral will not proceed.”
The lawyers warned that such a development would cause Katherine Jackson and the family “public embarrassment and added grief, along with the daunting task of having to make new arrangements.”
There was no indication of resistance by the administrators, who approved payment of all expenses and reimbursement of Michael Jackson’s sister Janet for an advance payment to Forest Lawn-Glendale of $49,000.
The final tally of costs included $855,730 to Forest Lawn for cemetery and funeral charges including the purchase of other plots within the same mausoleum that houses Jackson’s body.
Also listed were: $35,000 for burial garments; $1,975 for wardrobe for the family; $2,000 for usher costumes; $3,682 for framing of a photograph of Jackson next to the casket; $959 for embroidery; $11,716 for invitations and programs; $16,000 for flowers; $30,000 for cars and security; and $15,000 for a funeral designer. There was also a charge of $21,455 for the “funeral repast” at a restaurant after the ceremony.
During the period that the family waited to bury Jackson, they were charged $5,000 a month for holding the remains in a temporary vault.
The documents showed that his mother, brother Randy and sister Janet were involved in the planning and were mindful that the media would be covering the funeral, although media were not allowed inside the ceremony.
“Mrs. Jackson and her family wish to honor her son by a funeral that seeks to offer solace to his multitude of fans and by which the family also may be comforted,” the attorneys said. The costs were substantial but “entirely commensurate with the decedent’s worldwide status as an entertainer and the world’s grief over his death.”
Mrs. Jackson’s attorneys were granted the request for $1 million. The administrators noted this was in addition to the costs of the Staples Center tribute, which was approved by the court as part of the agreement with entertainment group AEG.
Outside court on Tuesday, lawyer Howard Weitzman, who represents the administrators, said: “I would have done it less expensively. But it was Michael Jackson, who was larger than life. There’s no reason he should not have a funeral that’s larger than life.”