The late Michael Jackson has long been reported to be one of the largest private owners of moon property. One of his holdings purports to be a 1,200 acre parcel in the Lake of Dreams for which he paid $27.40 per acre in 2005 (that’s $32,880 on my calculator). Not even a month after Michael Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009, the Lunar Republic announced that the crater designated Posidonius J was now renamed the “Michael Joseph Jackson” crater by the International Lunar Geographic Society. The crater is adjacent to the Lake of Dreams parcel the eccentric singer supposedly owned.
I did not know about the crater being renamed “Michael Joseph Jackson” or “Crater M. Jackson” myself until last week. I was wondering who the Lunar Geographic Society is and who sold him the land on the moon to begin with. I was also wondering how many people know about this, at least people I know, so I decided to bring it up with everyone I chatted with in the course of my normal week, and record their reactions to such fascinating lunar information. I was expecting reactions like:
“So when we colonize on the moon, does that mean we have to pay Michael Jackson’s estate rent?”
“Does moon property appreciate in value?”
“You don’t really believe that, do you?”
Most of the responses I got involved Jackson and his famous “moonwalk” dance move. The conversation then usually turned to the Godfather of Soul, whose dancing had a great influence on a young Michael Jackson. At James Brown’s public funeral on December 30, 2006, Michael Jackson paid tribute to Soul Brother No. One’s funky dance moves, saying: “James Brown is my greatest inspiration, ever since I was a small child …”
With or without that small digression, the conversation progressed to who sold the King of Pop the land and whether it was real or just a publicity stunt. Michael Jackson bought the land from a company named Lunar Republic. That enterprise and the Lunar Geographic Society (formerly the Lunar Republic Society) as well as the Lunar Registry sites all appear to be interconnected. All use the King of Pop’s name liberally in promoting land sales on the moon, craters and related lunar products. They have upscale parcels for sale and, if you don’t have that kind of scratch, you can still get “the moon on a budget.”
As for the naming of the Posidonius J crater after Michael Jackson, the International Lunar Geographic Society has no real authority to rename craters on the moon. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the only organization with recognized authority to name planets, stars, asteroids, meteors and those good old moon craters. The IAU was founded in 1919 and is comprised of over 10,000 professional astronomers throughout the world. On its website, the IAU discourages people from buying stars and land on planets and moon, and makes it clear that the IAU is in no way associated with the practice. As for that crater, you can call it the MJ Crater, the Michael Joseph Jackson Crater or even the Green Cheese Crater if you want, but its name officially remains Posidonius J.
As peculiar as it may seem, there’s a very long history of people claiming to own and trying to sell the moon. On Thunder Child, in his book review of “Unreal Real Estate: The Men Who Sold the Moon,” Ryan Brennan reports that by 1965, the U.S. Department of the Interior received so many inquiries regarding the legality of owning property on the moon that “a form letter was drafted. Throughout, the Department has maintained that to make a legitimate claim, the claimant must first inspect the land, file the claim, then meet a requirement of six months residency on said land. Obviously, no one, so far, has been able to meet this criteria.”
The Lunar Republic Society and the Lunar Registry, however, make no claims of owning the moon. The real purpose of their initiative in selling certificates to land on the moon, according to their website, is to aid in advancing man’s ability to live on the moon. In their FAQs, in reply to the question of where the money paid for the lunar real estate goes, they say: “… Under the terms of the Lunar Settlement Initiative, not less than 95% of the sale price of each acre is placed in an independently-managed escrow account to be utilized ‘in a manner that shall successfully accomplish the goal of returning humans to Luna.’ …”
Whether you believe that or not, you’ve got to love their tagline: “Nothing can be greater than to own your own crater.”
Additional Sources (not embedded):
MTV News: James Brown Saluted by Michael Jackson … (12/30/2006)
Lulu: Unreal Real Estate: The Men Who Sold the Moon by Virgiliu Pop