1988–90: Autobiography, changing appearance, and Neverland
In 1988, Jackson released his first autobiography, Moon Walk, which took four years to complete and sold 200,000 copies. Jackson wrote about his childhood, The Jackson 5, and the abuse he had suffered. He also spoke of his plastic surgery, saying he had had two rhinoplastic surgeries and the surgical creation of a cleft in his chin. He attributed much of the change in the structure of his face to puberty, weight loss, a strict vegetarian diet, a change in hair style, and stage lighting. Moon Walk reached the top position on The New York Times best sellers' list. The musician then released a film called Moonwalker, which featured live footage and music videos that starred Jackson and Joe Pesci. Moonwalker debuted atop the Billboard Top Music Video Cassette chart, staying there for 22 weeks. It was eventually knocked off the top spot by Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues.
In March 1988, Jackson purchased land near Santa Ynez, California to build Neverland Ranch at a cost of $17 million. He installed Ferris wheels, a menagerie, and a movie theater on the 2,700-acre (11 km2) property. A security staff of 40 patrolled the grounds. In 2003, it was valued at approximately $100 million. In 1989, his annual earnings from album sales, endorsements, and concerts was estimated at $125 million for that year alone. Shortly afterwards, he became the first Westerner to appear in a television ad in the Soviet Union.
His success resulted in his being dubbed the "King of Pop", a nickname conceived by Elizabeth Taylor when she presented him with an "Artist of the Decade" award in 1989, proclaiming him "the true king of pop, rock and soul." President George H. W. Bush presented him with The White House's special "Artist of the Decade." From 1985 to 1990, he donated $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund, and all of the profits from his single "Man in the Mirror" went to charity. Jackson's live rendition of "You Were There" at Sammy Davis Jr.'s60th birthday celebration received an Emmy nomination.
1991–93: Dangerous and Super Bowl XXVII
In March 1991, Jackson renewed his contract with Sony for $65 million, a record-breaking deal at the time, displacing Neil Diamond's renewal contract with Columbia Records. Jackson released his eighth album Dangerous in 1991. As of 2008, Dangerous had shipped seven million copies in the U.S. and had sold 32 million copies worldwide; it is the most successful new jack swing album of all time. In the United States, the album's first single "Black or White" was its biggest hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and remaining there for seven weeks, with similar chart performances worldwide. The album's second single "Remember the Time" spent eight weeks in the top five in the United States, peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. In 1993, Jackson performed the song at the Soul Train Awards in a chair, saying he had suffered an injury in rehearsals. In the UK and other parts of Europe, "Heal the World" was the biggest hit from the album; it sold 450,000 copies in the UK and spent five weeks at number two in 1992.
Jackson founded the "Heal the World Foundation" in 1992. The charity organization brought underprivileged children to Jackson's ranch to enjoy theme park rides that Jackson had built on the property. The foundation also sent millions of dollars around the globe to help children threatened by war and disease. The Dangerous World Tour began on June 27, 1992, and finished on November 11, 1993. Jackson performed to 3.5 million people in 67 concerts. All profits from the concerts went to the "Heal the World Foundation", raising millions of dollars in relief. He sold the broadcast rights to his Dangerous world tour to HBO for $20 million, a record-breaking deal that still stands. Following the illness and death of Ryan White, Jackson helped draw public attention to HIV/AIDS, something that was still controversial at the time. He publicly pleaded with the Clinton Administration at Bill Clinton's Inaugural Gala to give more money to HIV/AIDS charities and research.
In a high-profile visit to Africa, Jackson visited several countries, among them Gabon and Egypt. His first stop to Gabon was greeted with a sizable reception of more than 100,000 people in "spiritual bedlam", some of them carrying signs that read, "Welcome Home Michael". In his trip to the Ivory Coast, Jackson was crowned "King Sani" by a tribal chief. He then thanked the dignitaries in French and English, signed official documents formalizing his kingship and sat on a golden throne while presiding over ceremonial dances.
One of Jackson's most acclaimed performances came during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVII. As the performances began, Jackson was catapulted up from beneath the stage as fireworks went off behind him. After landing on the canvas, he maintained a statuesque stance dressed in a gold and black military outfit and sunglasses; he remained in the stance for over a minute while the crowd cheered. He then slowly removed his sunglasses, threw them away and began to sing and dance. His routine included four songs: "Jam", "Billie Jean", "Black or White" and "Heal the World". It was the first Super Bowl where the audience figures increased during the half-time show, and was viewed by 135 million Americans alone; Jackson'sDangerous album rose 90 places up the album chart.
Jackson was given the "Living Legend Award" at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. "Black or White" was Grammy nominated for best vocal performance. "Jam" gained two nominations: Best R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song.
1993: First child sexual abuse allegations
Jackson gave a 90-minute interview to Oprah Winfrey in February 1993, his second television interview since 1979. He grimaced when speaking of his childhood abuse at the hands of his father; he believed he had missed out on much of his childhood years, admitting that he often cried from loneliness. He denied tabloid rumors that he had bought the bones of the Elephant Man, slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, or bleached his skin, stating for the first time that he had vitiligo. The interview was watched by an American audience of 90 million, becoming the fourth most-viewed non-sport program in U.S. history. It also increased awareness of vitiligo, a relatively unknown condition. Dangerous re-entered the album chart in the top 10, more than a year after its original release.
In the summer of 1993, Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse by a 13-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler and his father, Evan Chandler, a dentist. A year after Jackson met the boy, under the influence of sodium amytal, a controversial sedative, Jordan told his father that Jackson had touched his penis. The father was tape-recorded discussing his intention to pursue charges, where he said, "If I go through with this, I win big-time. There's no way I lose. I will get everything I want and they will be destroyed forever ... Michael's career will be over". He and Jackson engaged in unsuccessful negotiations to reach a financial settlement; the negotiations were initiated by Chandler but Jackson did make several counter offers. Jordan told a psychiatrist and later police that he and Jackson had engaged in acts of kissing, masturbation and oral sex, as well as giving a detailed description of what he alleged were the singer's genitals.
An official investigation began, with Jordan's mother adamant that there was no wrongdoing on Jackson's part. Neverland Ranch was searched; and multiple children and family members denied that Jackson was a pedophile, though his image took a further hit when his older sister, La Toya, accused him of being a pedophile, a statement she later retracted. Jackson agreed to a 25-minute strip search, conducted by police and doctors at his ranch, required to see if a description provided by Jordan of Jackson's genitals was accurate. Doctors concluded there were strong similarities, but it was not a definitive match. His friends said he never recovered from the humiliation. He described the search in an emotional public statement, and proclaimed his innocence.
He began taking painkillers and sedatives, including Valium, Ativan, and Xanax, in part to ease chronic pain resulting from an accident with stage rigging during the Dangerous Tour, and for joint inflammation associated with the lupus, but also to ease the panic attacks stemming from the allegations against him. By the fall of 1993, he was addicted. His health deteriorated to such an extent that he canceled the remainder of the Dangerous World Tour and went into rehab in London for a few months, dramatically disappearing from public view with the help of Elizabeth Taylor and Elton John. The stress of the allegations also caused him to stop eating, and he lost a significant amount of weight. With his health in decline, his friends and legal advisers took over his defense and finances. They called on him to settle the child-abuse allegations out of court, believing he could not endure a lengthy trial.
The tabloids painted him in an extremely unfavorable light. Complaints about them included bias against Jackson, paying for stories about alleged criminal activity, and buying leaked confidential material from the police investigation. On January 1, 1994, Jackson settled with the Chandlers out of court for $22 million, after which Jordan stopped co-operating regarding criminal proceedings. Jackson was never charged, and the state closed its criminal investigation, citing lack of evidence.