Michael Jackson sat next to Al Malnik, far right, during the reputed mobster's 70th birthday bash at The Forge restaurant in 2003.
You knew it wouldn't be long before Miami would find itself mired in the Michael Jackson death story.
At first, some people in Miami tried to jump on the bandwagon by claiming that the cemetery in which the Thriller video was filmed is none other than the Coconut Grove Bahamian Cemetery, but that turned out to be an urban myth.
But now we have something even juicier.
Al Malnik, Miami restaurateur, reputed mobster and legendary loan shark, is claiming that he might not only be the father of Michael Jackson’s youngest son, but he might also be the executor of Jackson’s multimillion dollar estate.
“Blanket” – who was thrust into the limelight in 2002 after Jackson dangled him from a Berlin balcony - is now seven years old. He was born to an unknown mother; a surrogate mother that Jackson never met.
At the time he supposedly signed everything over to Malnik, Jackson was drowning in debt, much of it coming from his child molestation legal bills and no doubt the $27 million he paid to silence a couple of other kids who had accused him of molesting them.
Malnik, who was once dubbed “heir apparent” to mobster Meyer Lanksky, reportedly saved Jackson from bankruptcy when he was unable to repay a $70 million loan.
But then Jackson got this crazy idea that Malnik might be expecting something in return and ended up accusing him of conspiring against him.
According to a 2005 Vanity Fair article, he believed Malnik along with music mogul Tommy Mottola and film director Brett Ratner were out to swindle him of his stake in the Beatles collection, which was worth more than a half-billion dollars.
Malnik disputed these allegations, saying he was nothing more than a father figure to Jackson.
Muckraker Bob Norman of the Broward-Palm Beach New Times is dubious:
“Malnik, in his business dealings, has never been known for helping anyone without expecting more in return. He learned from Lansky, after all, and was dubbed the mobster's "heir apparent" by Reader's Digest when Lansky died in 1983. He was banned from Atlantic City casinos by the New Jersey Gaming Commission after it was determined he was associated with criminals, including Lansky and mobster Sam Cohen.”
Norman is appalled that the reporters who recently interviewed Malnik have not mentioned his mob ties in their articles.
But maybe that's considered ancient history. Especially in Miami where it takes a historian to recount (wrongly) what took place in a Coconut Grove cemetery during the early 1980s.
Some Miami tourism sites are still clinging to the myth, including Miami for Visitors, which states that "this cemetery in Coconut Grove's Bahamian District is an important historic site and the location where Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' video was filmed."
And if you believe that, then you might believe a multimillion dollar loan shark would bail you out of debt out of the goodness of his heart. Just take a look at this Youtube video on the making of the Thriller video.
But even if Jackson never strutted through the tombs of the Coconut Grove cemetery, he did stay in Malnik's 15-bedroom, 35,000 square foot mansion in Palm Beach County.
Malnik, who owned The Forge restaurant on South Beach before handing over ownership to his son Shareef, also invited Jackson to his 70th birthday bash in 2003 at the landmark restaurant where the King of Pop sat at the head table with pop.
The two reportedly met in the waiting room of a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. Judging by their appearances, that is not hard to believe.