Michael Jackson’s longtime doctor, friend, and alleged drug supplier, Arnie Klein, died late Thursday night at the age of 70, TMZ reports. In the course of his career as a dermatologist to the stars, he became known as the “Father of Botox” and the “King of Lips,” but was always most famous for his association with Jackson.
Klein, who often claimed to be the “closest person in the world to Michael Jackson,” became one of the King of Pop’s chief doctors after diagnosing him with lupus in the ‘80s, according to Mark Seal’s excellent 2012 Klein profile in Vanity Fair.
Throughout their long friendship, Klein allegedly supplied Jackson with the painkiller Demerol, and prescribed drugs for him under several different aliases. An L.A. coroner from the office that received Jackson’s corpse told Vanity Fair that “there were over 30 vials and packages of meds” found at Jackson’s home after his death, some allegedly from Klein and some from Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death.
Klein was never charged, but Murray’s defense team unsuccessfully attempted to shift the blame for Jackson’s death from Murray’s propofol prescriptions to Klein’s Demerol.
“The defense planned to blame Klein for Jackson’s Demerol addiction ... The prosecution, however, complained that Murray was trying to misdirect the jury’s attention onto Klein, who was not on trial,” the L.A. Times reported in 2011.
The judge agreed with the prosecution, and struck Klein from the witness list.
Klein also introduced Jackson to his longtime medical assistant, Debbie Rowe, who was married to Jackson from 1996 to 1999, and carried two of his children—Prince and Paris.
For years, Klein entertained rumors that he was the kids’ biological father. In 2012, Klein’s friend Carrie Fisher told the New York Times that she had to tell Klein, “Please don’t say you’re the father anymore.”
“Arnie’s desire and enjoyment of publicity has caused some discomfort,” Fisher said.
In 2009, Klein admitted the kids weren’t his “to the best of my knowledge,” but as recently as 2013, he posted a side-by-side photo of his younger self and Prince Jackson on Facebook, with the caption “hmmmmmm.”
Debbie Rowe eventually admitted that “of course it was artificial insemination,” but she has never definitively said who the Jackson’s children’s biological father is— just that “it wasn’t Michael’s sperm.”
On Twitter Thursday, the same day Klein died, TMZ reported that Prince Jackson had responded to a Twitter instigator who told him, “everyone knows you are a Rowe-Klein NOT A Jackson!!” by tweeting, “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb ... I was raised by my dad with my brother and sister.”
Klein leaves behind a very interesting Facebook page, mostly dedicated to his famous patients and to the former office manager and former accountant he accused in bankruptcy filings of stealing $22 million from him by tricking him into signing over his power of attorney. Both denied the accusations and filed counterclaims against Klein.