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Thief Demands Ransom From Jackson

October 27, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ A thief has demanded that Michael Jackson pay $100,000 for the return of several home videos of him playing with his children, a spokesman for the singer said Wednesday.

The anonymous call came into the Los Angeles offices of Jackson’s MJJ Productions this week, shortly before a tabloid contacted Jackson’s office with word that pictures taken from the tape were for sale, said Jackson spokesman Howard Rubenstein.

Until the two calls, Jackson was not aware that the tapes were missing. He plans to file a complaint with authorities in France, where the tapes were stolen from his hotel room, Rubenstein said.

``The tapes are not embarrassing at all,″ said Rubenstein. ``But we’re not going to buy the tapes back. He absolutely refuses to pay a ransom. He wants to prosecute whoever stole them.″

The videos were shot around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays last year at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in California and during a summer visit to Euro Disney in France.

The tapes showed Jackson, 41, cavorting with his two children, 2-year-old Prince Michael Jackson Jr. and 1-year-old Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, Rubenstein said.

The children’s mother, Deborah Rowe Jackson, filed for divorce from Jackson earlier this month, citing irreconcilable differences.

Jackson’s attorneys, Lavely & Singer, threatened ``immediate action″ for copyright infringement against any media outlets that purchased either the video or photographs taken from the tapes.

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