Desmond's $500K Gamble: OK! Goes for Broke with Macabre Michael Jackson Death Photo

The absurd follies at OK! Magazine, British publisher Richard Desmond's cash-hemorrhaging tabloid weekly, never seem to end. This week they're tossing a desperate "Hail Mary" by paying huge to plaster an image of a dying Michael Jackson on their cover.

You may recall that Entertainment Tonight released a picture just hours after Jackson's death that they claimed was the "exclusive last photo" taken of Michael Jackson. Now OK! has purchased what they claim is the real last photo taken of Michael Jackson for a cool $500,000, a photo they plan to run in all of their international editions.

Reports PDN:

Sarah Ivens, OK!'s editorial director, said she thought the photo of the dying Jackson would differentiate the title from the rash of tribute-style covers that have begun hitting newsstands this week.

"It's a photo that captures the surprise and the upset and the moment of this breaking news story," Ivens said. "I hope the cover will provoke readers. It celebrated the man, but it also does expose that he was an eccentric character who lived a very controversial life."

We're told by sources at OK! that Richard Desmond purchased the photo against the wishes of most of the magazine's staffers. We've been hearing for a while that Desmond's been planning on shutting down the magazine if things don't turn around financially by the end of the year, so this is probably one last ghastly attempt to save his dying tabloid.