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Bidding war over Jackson footage?

July 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Jackson's death has stirred a buying frenzy. 1,200 hours of never-before-seen footage has hit the market. And while bidders battle it out, neighbors around Neverland Ranch are taking a stand.Neighbors who surround Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County want assurances that the 2,700 acre estate will not be converted into a tourist destination.

The primary owner, Thomas Barack, has not submitted a development proposal, but has held the door open to the possibility.

Barack, one of Michael Jackson's partners, heads a financial firm called Colony Capital. The Wall Street Journal reports Colony is one of several firms in a bidding war for Jackson's 50 percent share of Sony/ATV publishing. The share holds most of The Beatles song catalog.

Quincy Jones III, who is the son of the famed music producer by the same name, says he sees a marketing bonanza.

"They could be buying ringtones, video tones, which is like an extracted clip from video that shows up every time somebody calls your phone," said Jones. "It could be personal greetings with an image of Michael Jackson, or whoever else."

Another hot property is Jackson's rehearsal footage, which was shot about one week before his death. According to the Los Angeles Times, Sony may have offered as much as $50 million for world distribution rights.

"The fact that he can go on tour and perform for 2 1/2 hours straight, dancing and singing the entire time ... Most people could handle one or two rounds of that and then they're done. Michael did that continuously his entire life," said Jones.

The clamor over Jackson's estate comes as toxicologists are still trying to determine his cause of death. Jackson's father, Joe, is one person feeding speculation.

"I just couldn't believe it," said Joe Jackson during an exclusive interview with ABC News. "And I do believe it was foul play. I do believe that."

A senior law enforcement official involved in the investigation has played down the notion of foul play, telling the Los Angeles Times:

"There is nothing I have been told that would suggest a murder charge. It is just so remote and so unsupported by the facts as they have been gathered."

Attorneys for Katherine Jackson say contrary to weekend reports, she is not contesting any part of her son's will. Katherine has temporary custody of Michael's three children and says her top priority remains the care of her grandchildren.

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