As soon as the untimely and sudden death of superstar Michael Jackson hit the airwaves, the rumors began flying. From the highly suspicious to the utterly ludicrous, falsehoods spread through the media like wildfire. Michael Jackson-a superstar with unmatched talent and charisma, a national treasure under a glaring global spotlight from the time he was 10 years old-was an incredibly private person. And though millions revered the man behind the pop-king mask, few really knew him.
Al Malnik, the famous lawyer, businessman, and restaurateur whom Haute Living referred to as a “Living Legend” during our cover profile in the January/February 2008 Miami edition, was one of the few people whom Michael trusted wholeheartedly. In fact, Malnik is the godfather of Michael’s youngest son, Blanket, a piece of reality that got twisted and misconstrued in the weeks following his death. The rumor mill warped the truth so much that it was claimed that Malnik was actually the biological father of Blanket-a completely fabricated falsehood. Malnik appeared on The Today Show to answer the claims, which he called a “Ripley event,” considering he didn’t meet Blanket until the boy was a year old. Speaking out for only the second time since Michael’s passing, Al Malnik shares his personal history with Michael Jackson with Haute Living in hopes of setting the record straight about the private life of this public figure.
We would travel often with Michael and the family, going down to Acapulco or other family vacation spots. We also have fond memories of our times out at Neverland Ranch.
I first met Michael about nine years ago. I was told that he had heard about me and was interested in meeting, and in particular wanted to request a tour of my house in Palm Beach. Michael was an architecture buff, and he had admired the property from afar. He was in L.A. at the time, and expressed interest in discussing several different business ideas and plans. He finally asked [director] Brett Ratner, whom I refer to as my 11th son, to call me and ask to meet with him. I initially said no because I was not a fan, so I really didn’t see the point in inviting him to come over and entertain him.
When I told my wife Nancy about it, she raised holy hell! She said, “Are you kidding? Michael Jackson! I grew up with him! His posters were on my wall! You have to let him come over, I want to meet him.” So to please her, I invited him to the house, and from that first meeting we all developed a beautiful friendship.
Throughout the past decade or so, Michael would come and stay at the house quite a bit, sometimes with the children, and sometimes alone. It was an extraordinary time. Michael was an amazing houseguest because he really didn’t require any attention. He liked to clean his own room and make his own bed, and he taught his kids to do that, too, much to our amazement.
Michael soon became close friends with my son Shareef, along with Brett Ratner and Chris Tucker. The four of them spent a great deal of time together at our house, always having a ball, filled with a lot of laughs. I also have triplets that are around the same age as Michael’s two older children, Prince and Paris, who are 12 and 11 now. We would travel often with Michael and the family, going down to Acapulco or other family vacation spots. We also have fond memories of our times out at Neverland Ranch. The most important bungalow there is called the Elizabeth Taylor suite, which is where we stayed. The first night, he had Elizabeth Taylor herself call me, welcoming me to her suite at Neverland Ranch! The kids, of course, loved Neverland; they went around with Michael’s children and saw the zoo and rode the train. It was such a magical time.