Wednesday, December 11, 2013
In an effort to reclaim and repatriate Russia’s cultural legacy, President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to consider buying the archive and Swiss estate of composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff at a price of about $20 million.
After fleeing Russia amidst the Bolshevik Revolution, Rachmaninoff summered at his Swiss estate Villa Senar. Grandson Alexandre, who died last year, offered little access to the villa and its “unique manuscripts and unique musical scores, unique letters and grand piano.”
If Russia were to acquire the estate, it could serve to promote Rachmaninoff as a Russian classic, rather than an international superstar virtuoso. But it should also free up his materials to researchers.
See Sophia Kishkovsky, Russia May Seek to Reclaim Rachmaninoff Estate, The New York Times, Nov. 25, 2013.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
As I have previously discussed, Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and Clifford Harris, Jr. (T.I.) filed a preemptive lawsuit against Marvin Gaye’s children on August 19 in order to stop any claims the children may have for intentional copyright infringement of the Gaye song “Got to Give It Up.” Frankie Christian Gaye and Nona Gaye filed a countersuit in October claiming copyright infringement on two songs.
Gaye’s adopted eldest son, Marvin Gaye III, has now hired his own attorney and filed his own counterclaim. Like his siblings, he’s only bringing copyright claims on “Blurred Lines” and “Love After War” (allegedly copied from Gaye’s “After the Dance”). Gaye III’s separate lawsuit could muddle up settlement discussions as well as the disbursement of damages if the counterclaims were to be successful.
See Eriq Gardner, Marvin Gaye’s Oldest Son Claims Robin Thicke Copied Four Songs, The Hollywood Reporter, Nov. 26, 2013.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
The son and second wife of late singer Teddy Pendergrass are currently battling over the rights to his estate.
His son, Teddy Pendergrass II, claims a 2009 will names him executor and beneficiary of the estate. Second wife Joan Pendergrass, who married the hit singer in 2008, has the burden to prove this will is invalid and that Teddy intended for Joan to take over his estate.
The first witness called in the trial was private-duty nurse, Gordon Nicholson. Pendergrass was left a quadriplegic following a car crash in 1982. Nicholson testified that Pendergrass was always under round-the-clock care, making it difficult for Pendergrass to leave the house undetected to sign any will. Nicholson also testified Pendergrass did not have the motor skills to sign his name. The trial is expected to last several days.
See Carl Hessler Jr., Son and Second Wife of Singer Teddy Pendergrass Battle in Court over Late Singer’s Estate, Times-Standard, Nov. 20, 2013.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
On July 26, 2013, the IRS sent a notice of deficiency to the Michael Jackson estate. The estate had reported a $7 million taxable value of the estate’s assets, including a paltry $2,105 valuation of the King of Pop’s name and likeness. The IRS valued the name and likeness at over $434 million and the entire estate at over $1.1 billion. The notice of deficiency demands over $505 million in estate taxes. The IRS also tacked on an additional $196 million, contending the executors significantly undervalued the estate’s property.
In response to the IRS notice, the estate filed a petition with the U.S. Tax Court, contending its valuations of assets was accurate and based on qualified appraisals. The IRS responded by detailing all of the proposed IRS valuations of MJ’s assets, including his name and likeness.
Since the King of Pop died, his estate has generated hundreds of millions of licensing dollars, which the IRS has undoubtedly factored into its valuation. The disagreement over the estate’s valuation has set the stage for a contentious legal battle.
See Michael R. Morris, Michael Jackson Estate’s Valuation ($2,105) Vs. IRS’ MJ Valuation ($434 Mil.), Billboard, Nov. 11, 2013.
Special thanks to Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine University School of Law, Editor of TaxProf Blog) for bringing this article to my attention.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Lou Reed’s estate is staying in the family. Reed left a quarter of his estate to his sister, Margaret Reed Weiner, as well as a $500,000 bequest to care for his mother Toby. Reed’s wife, Laurie Anderson, will inherit everything else.
Reed had been battling liver disease and died on October 27 while practicing Tai Chi in his $1.5 million home in East Hampton, New York. Other assets Anderson will inherit include a Manhattan penthouse and all of his personal property.
Reed’s business manager, Robert Gotterer, and his accountant, David Gotterer, will look after the licensing and copyright for Reed’s music.
See Kirsty McCormack, ‘It All Stays in the Family’ Lou Reed Leaves 75 Percent of his Estate to Wife Laurie, Express, Nov. 5, 2013.
Friday, November 8, 2013
Forbes came out with its list of the top-earning dead musicians of 2013. The postmortem performers who raked in the most money over the past year are:
- Michael Jackson: $160 million
- Elvis Presley: $55 million
- Bob Marley: $18 million
- John Lennon: $12 million
- Jenni Rivera: $7 million
Near misses include Richard Rogers, George Harrison, Tupac Shakur, Frank Sinatra, and the Notorious B.I.G.
See Zach O’Malley Greenburg, Top-Earning Dead Musicians 2013, Forbes, Oct. 31, 2013.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.
Monday, November 4, 2013
As I have previously discussed, Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and Clifford Harris, Jr. (T.I.) filed a preemptive lawsuit against Marvin Gaye’s children on August 19 in order to stop any claims the children may have for intentional copyright infringement of the Gaye song “Got to Give It Up.”
When Gaye’s children first heard the hit single “Blurred Lines,” they assumed Thicke and Williams obtained the proper license from EMI/SONY to use their father’s song. However, EMI/SONY told Gaye’s children no license was ever granted nor was any license needed.
Besides asking the court to reject any copyright infringement claims, the Blurred Lines writers also challenge the children’s standing. According to Gaye’s children, EMI/SONY would have to file a countersuit. However, EMI/SONY has refused to take action and refused to assign the children the right to file themselves, forcing the children to sue EMI/SONY for breach of contract and failure to perform fiduciary duties.
See Marvin Gaye’s Children Respond to Lawsuit Filed by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris, Jr., PR Newswire, Oct. 30, 2013.
Friday, October 18, 2013
Singer and social activist Harry Belafonte has sued Martin Luther King Jr.’s estate, asking the court to declare him the owner of three documents associated with the King estate and to bar the estate and King’s youngest daughter, Bernice King, from claiming ownership.
The documents include an outline of King’s “Casualties of the War in Vietnam” speech, the undelivered “Memphis Speech,” and a condolence letter from President Lyndon B. Johnson sent to King’s widow.
Bernice King and the King estate disputed Belafonte’s ownership of the documents when he had them appraised by Sotheby’s and put up for sale in 2008. The "King of Calpyso" claims the documents were given to him by the civil rights leader and his wife.
See Piya Sinha-Roy, Belafonte Sues King Estate, Daughter Over Ownership of Documents, Reuters, Oct. 16, 2013.
For the last five years Jamie Spears, Britney Spears's father, was granted conservatorship over Britney's finances and career. Now, Jamie is asking the judge for more money. Court documents reveal that Jamie is currently being paid $16,000 monthly for services administering Britney's estate in her best interests.
On October 15, Jamie filed a petition that stated “I continue to perform services to protect and care for Britney’s person and to administer her estate in good faith and in her best interests,” and “I continue to have significant oversight duties relating to her visitation with her children.” The request stems from the rent increase on his office dedicated to handling Britney's affairs. Jamie is asking to be retroactively reimbursed for the rent increase totaling $7,200 and authorization to spend $2000 on rent monthly. Britney's estate is valued at $220 million. Jamie receives $192,000 annually to look after her affairs so the judge will probably not find the request exploitive.
See Britney Spears' Father Asks Conservatorship Judge For More Money, Huffington Post, Oct. 17, 2013.
Special thanks to David S. Luber (Attorney at law, Florida Probate Attorney Wills and Estates Law Firm) for bringing this article to my attention.
Friday, October 4, 2013
Tupac’s mother and co-administrator of his estate, Afeni Shakur, has reportedly filed a $1.1 million lawsuit against Entertainment One (E1), claiming the company breached a contract to pay royalties for the 2007 project, Beginnings: The Lost Tapes.
Reports say E1 purchased the rights to Tupac’s music from Death Row Records in July of this year.
Tupac’s estate will also seek ownership of master recordings for all of his unreleased music.
See Andres Tardio, Tupac Estate Files $1.1 Million Lawsuit Against Entertainment One, HipHopDX, Sept. 26, 2013.