“Money” isn’t just the title of a song by super pop star Michael Jackson. It’s also the reason for a $1.4 million lawsuit filed against the singer by Beverly Hills, Calif., luxury retail jeweler David Orgell. In the July 10 lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, Orgell alleges that during an Oct. 30, 1999 visit to the store, Jackson-a frequent customer-took a fancy to a new $1.9 million King Kalla, a rare Vacheron Constantin diamond watch. (Only five have been made in 245 years.) In view of Jackson’s interest (and his request for a lower price), Orgell reduced the price to $1,450,000. On Dec. 18, Jackson asked to take it with him “for a couple days” before making a final decision, according to the suit. Orgell agreed, and, continues the lawsuit, both Jackson and his agent told the jeweler in phone calls a few days later that the singer was “very happy” with the watch and would pay the $1,450,000. Orgell sent an invoice to Jackson’s accountant according to what the legal action calls their “long standing” practice. The suit alleges that Jackson didn’t pay the price, though he never disputed the written invoice and in the first months of this year, during visits to the jeweler’s store, “expressly stated he enjoyed the watch.”
On April 13, the singer returned the timepiece to Orgell, saying that he’d had it for only four months “on approval” and that he had “changed his mind,” according to the jeweler. The timepiece, though, wasn’t in the same condition it was when Jackson took possession of it, says the lawsuit, which claims it was “scratched and otherwise damaged [which] substantially reduced the value” and made it “a used product with a corresponding decrease in its value.”
Orgell’s suit says that between January and July, he made “numerous requests and demands” for payment of the $1,450,000 for the watch, plus $376,389 for other jewelry purchases. Jackson did pay $361,089 in partial payment, but in July, Jackson informed the jeweler that he wouldn’t pay any more. On July 10, Orgell filed suit for the unpaid balance, which tallied $1,465,300.
A spokesman for Jackson has denied the lawsuit’s allegations.