James Brown estate sells for £68 million

James Brown’s estate had been sold for an estimated $90 million (about £68 million) to a publishing and management company, the New Musical Express reports.

The sale to Primary Wave includes all of Brown’s publishing master income stream and the name and likeness that were owned by the estate.

James Brown died at the age of 73 on Christmas Day in 2006. As well as his music, Brown championed educational advocacy and civil rights. During his long career, Brown received many prestigious music industry awards and honours, including a lifetime achievement award from The Grammys.

Legal battle settled

Earlier this year, Brown’s family finally settled a legal battle over the late singer’s estate that has lasted 15 years. His final will that was written in 2000 covered the disposal of his personal assets (clothing, cars and jewellery, etc.), while the irrevocable trust covered his music rights, the business assets of James Brown Enterprises, and his Beech Island, South Carolina estate.

He had specified in his will that he would not leave that much to his heirs, apart from a $2 million (£1.46 million) scholarship fund for his grandchildren, while most of his assets were left to charity, setting up scholarships for underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia.

His children contended the will and found ways to inherit the money. Another issue with Brown’s will were the claims of Tommie Rae Hynie who claimed to be Brown’s wife at the time of his death, although South Caroline’s supreme court ruled years later that she was not. Hynie and Brown’s son, James II was born after the final will.

Estate of fund scholarships

Primary Wave’s founder and CEO Larry Mestel said that the sale of the estate will help fund the scholarships Brown originally had in mind, as small percentages of earnings from future deals from his music will go towards establishing those scholarships. In the meantime, however, that cannot happen until ongoing lawsuits filed by Adele Pope, a former executor of Brown’s will, and Russell Bauknight, the fiduciary for the James Brown Estate and Trust, have been resolved.

Bauknight said in a statement: “The James Brown Estate and related Trust are very proud and excited to work with Larry Mestel and Primary Wave. We believe that our choice of professionals to take the James Brown Legacy to the next level is going to prove to be one of the most successful events in Mr. Brown’s long history in show business.”

Mestel added that he was “awed” that Primary Wave would be partnering with the former Godfather of Soul through the sale and that the company would continue to expand his influence and further his legacy.

Primary Wave has previously been involved in deals with artists such as Stevie Nicks and the Whitney Houston and Prince estates. The song acquisition market is a booming one and legacy artists are increasingly looking to sell song rights as part of the plans for their estates.

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