Book excerpt details Michael Jackson's purchase of the Beatles' song rights

Some interesting stuff from Zack O'Malley Greenburg's "Michael Jackson, Inc.," up now at Forbes:
...The lawyer remembers the frenzied days that followed. His first task: to check in with Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono, both friends of Jackson. As John Lennon’s widow, Ono was in charge of his estate and was rumored to have had some interest in making a joint offer for ATV with McCartney. Jackson was hoping to avoid a showdown.

“I got Yoko on the phone,” recalls Branca. “And then I said, ‘Michael asked me to call you and find out if you’re bidding [on] ATV Music that owns all the Beatles songs.’ ”

“No, we’re not bidding on it.”


“No, no, if we had bought it, then we’d have to deal with Paul,” replied Ono. “It’d have been a whole thing. Why?”

“Because Michael’s interested.”

“Oh, that would be wonderful in the hands of Michael rather than some big corporation.”

...Branca says his next move was to check in with John Eastman, Paul McCartney’s lawyer and brother-in-law (he represented the singer along with his father, Lee Eastman, who started working with McCartney before the Beatles broke up). According to Branca, Eastman said McCartney wasn’t interested because the catalogue was “much too pricey.” This was one of many reasons that neither

Branca nor Bandier believed McCartney would lay out such a large amount of cash.
Though the Beatles’ songs made up roughly two-thirds of ATV’s value, the remaining third consisted of assets McCartney didn’t want: copyrights to thousands of other compositions, a sound effects library, even some real estate. “Paul’s demeanor was very, very much more financially structured,” says Bandier. Adds Joe Jackson: “The only reason Michael bought that catalogue was because it was for sale! [McCartney and Ono] could have bought the catalogue themselves. But they didn’t.”