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Thursday, October 28, 1999 Published at 02:27 GMT 03:27 UK


Ransom demand for Jackson video

Jackson did not notice the tapes were missing

A thief is demanding a $100,000 ransom for the return of videotapes of pop superstar Michael Jackson playing with his young children.

An anonymous call came into Jackson's MJJ Productions office, shortly before a tabloid newspaper told them that pictures taken from the tape were for sale.

A spokesman for the self-titled "King of Pop" said the thief was trying to sell the videos to American tabloid newspapers.

"Someone is out there peddling these family pictures," he said.

Spokesman Howard Rubenstein said the videos which were "not embarrassing at all" were stolen from his Paris hotel room during a family holiday in July.

Great sentimental value

The videos show Jackson playing with two-year-old Prince Michael Jackson Jr, and one-year-old Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, at his Neverland Ranch on the central California coast last Christmas, and at EuroDisney outside Paris in July.

[ image: Happier times]
Happier times
He said Jackson's lawyer's would be filing a complaint with the appropriate authorities in Paris.

"These videos have great sentimental value for Michael and that is why he will fight to prevent anyone from using them and violating his children's privacy, and that is why he will fight to get them back. But he refuses to pay one penny in ransom," said the spokesman.

His lawyers have issued a statement warning that any media outlet publishing any portion of the stolen videotapes or any photographs taken from them would be sued and "substantial damages" would be sought.

Earlier this month Jackson and his second wife, former nurse Debbie Rowe Jackson, announced they had agreed to divorce after nearly three years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences.

Jackson's brief first marriage was to Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley.

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