As Told to Stephanie Wilson by Alvin Malnik
Cover Photo by Tatijana Shoan
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.
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TWO DEGREES OF SEPARATION: South Florida kingpin and St. Louis native, Alvin I. Malnik, 76, has been getting a lot of face time since Michael Jackson’s death. Malnik — a product of Clark Elementary School, Soldan High and Wash U. — was a friend of Jackson’s for a long time and says the King of Pop asked him to become godfather and parent to Prince Michael II, “Blanket” if anything happened to Jackson.
Malnik has been interviewed about his connections to Jackson by NBC’s Today Show, CBS and the Palm Beach Post, among others.
Malnik has said he signed a document in 2003 saying that he could take custody of Blanket if anything happened to Jackson and that he also agreed in writing to be the executor of Jackson’s estate. Malnik says that Jackson at the time became the godfather of Malnik’s then 11-year-old daughter, Spencer. Jackson and Malnik reportedly had a falling out in the past couple of years. The cause of the estrangement is unclear.
Jackson used to seek refuge in Malnik’s 15-bedroom, 35,000-square-foot Palm Beach County mansion in Ocean Ridge. He reportedly would stay there for months at a time with his children and an entourage. Malnik was Jackson’s attorney and said he helped him refinance his debt with Sony and the Bank of America. Malnik also was the owner of the exclusive Forge restaurant in Miami, which he sold to his son Shareef.
Jackson sat with Malnik at the head table during Malnik’s 70th birthday bash at the Forge in 2003, which was attended by my predecessor at the Post-Dispatch, Jerry Berger. Berger was a longtime friend of Malnik’s. He
wrote about the party that “the invitation to Florida itself was unique: a taped message from the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. But the event lived up to its billing. Jackson, accompanied by a full phalanx of bodyguards, was on hand to welcome Malnik’s guests, including B.B. King, Smokey Robinson, F. Lee Bailey and celeb lawyer Roy Black.”
Berger included the names of some of Malnik’s St. Louis pals who were at the shindig: Attorney Martin Green, merger and acquisitions mogul Gilbert Kopolow and L.A.-based sales exec Barry Gelber. He said the Harbour Group’s Sam Fox and his wife, Marilyn, friends of Malnik’s since high school days, were no-shows but were represented by a magnificent floral masterpiece from the Fox den.
Malnik also turned up with a connection to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley. His name was on a list of campaign contributors as having donated $2000 to Dooley’s unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2000; Dooley was
a St. Louis County councilman at the time.
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Al Malnik Interview with Merideth Viera on the Today Show 070109
MV- You know, I look at the images you have offered to share with us this morning, both still photos and the videos, and its clear that yours was a place where Michael felt he could come and relax and take the masks off his children, both literally and figuratively. What are some of the fondest memories of the time he spent with you and your family?
AM- Well, there are so many stories. As I’m sitting here I just thought of one. At a dining room table, which is sitting right next to me, we were having dinner one night and Michael mentioned how fond he was of Louis Armstrong, and I said Michael, that’s extraordinary that you said that, because the dining table here, that we’re having dinner on, was once Louis Armstrong’s table and chairs in New Orleans. He broke down and sobbed. Michael was filled with humility, sensitivity, reverence and respect for anyone and everyone. And most of all the love that he had for his kids equalled the love that he had for his fans. He just was a guy that was beyond amazing and it’s just sad to hear all the spurious stories that have been created about him.
MV- You know, Alvin, I’m struck by the photos, or the video actually, that was shown in Mike’s piece that was taken at that supermarket. You took Michael Jackson to a market in the middle of the night so he could do what everybody else does normally, just go shopping, and how much fun he had there. And it seemed to point out to me how isolated he must have been in his daily life to get such a thrill out of this. Did he ever talk to you about the loneliness he felt?
AM- He said loneliness is part of his obligation, because he really felt he had a God given talent that he was required to share with the world. And that’s what he did, and a part of that was for his personal loneliness to suffer. He was well equipped and agreed to do that.
MV- You know, I get the sense looking again at these images that his children seem well adjusted, at least the pictures show them to be well adjusted. Is that the way they came across to you?
AM- Not only well adjusted,…great story- You know I asked him, I said to my staff you have a lot of extra work with the kids staying here, do we need some extra work efforts on your part? They said there isn’t any extra effort. Michael’s kids clean their rooms, they make up their beds, polish the mirrors and they take care of everything, and he (Michael Jackson) said that’s the way I bring up my kids and that’s exactly what they did. Each and every morning Michael’s children, their first chores before breakfast were to clean their rooms.
MV- Are you concerned about the kids welfare right now? I mean they just lost the only parent they’ve ever known.
AM- Yes I am, but I think the Jackson family love these children just as they loved Michael, and I have no doubt at the end of the day the kids are going to be fine and they’re going to be well provided for.
MV- You know Al, there were reports that at one point you had claimed to be Blanket’s biological father. Do you want to set the record straight here this morning?
AM- (Laughs) Yes, it would be very interesting (for people) to realize that I didn’t meet Blanket until he was two years old, so that would really qualify as a Ripley (Believe It or Not) event, I think. Of course I’m not the biological father.
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