Thursday, February 28, 2008

Everyone loves BRITNEY!

Britney Spears’ mental meltdown has sent her to the psychiatric ward twice. It has also left her long-divorced parents, her brother, and a SWAT team of lawyers and accountants grappling with how to protect her from predatory Britney Spearshangers-on, from the paparazzi who dog her every move and from her own erratic behaviour.

But beyond the psychodrama is another serious subject for the Spears family: How to protect the millions of dollars that Spears, 26, has amassed over a decade as one of America’s biggest pop music, merchandise and endorsement engines? One of her former financial advisers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, because of his relationship with his client, estimated her current fortune at around $50 million. That’s an enormous amount, but being a wealthy cultural phenomenon doesn’t make one impervious to financial disaster.

Spears will not run out of money anytime soon, but her longer-term prospects have suffered in the last year, because of bizarre behaviour and herBritney Spears tortured personal life after her divorce from Kevin Federline, formerly one of her backup dancers.

According to court documents, her everyday finances seem to have fallen into disrepair as well. A February 14, court filing put it starkly, “Members of Britney’s household have been paying for her basic necessities, including medicine, food, and other day-to-day needs.” What little light has been shed on Spears’ finances came in May last year, when part of an income statement surfaced during her divorce case, putting her average monthly earnings at more than $730,000, mainly from royalties, but said she earned only $13,000 a month from investments. (Her spending, including $102,000 a month for entertainment,Britney Spears gifts and vacation and $16,000 for clothes, was more eye-catching).

If Spears regains her health – and her desire to tour – will there still be an opportunity? A return would require corporate sponsors, who for the moment would be likely to shun Spears, but who might come around, said Steve Lunt, a vice president at Spears’ label, until 2006. “People will still want to be associated with her,” he said. “You could mention her name in Afghanistan, Israel, Greece or South Africa, and everyone knows who she is.”

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