Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sotheby’s Sells The Beatles’ Original Signed Contract For $569,000

The beatlesThe original 1962 contract signed by the four members of the Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein has been sold for $569,000 at Sotheby’s London.  This historical contract helped to launch the Beatles into their legendary status and is considered the most important contract in rock and roll history.  Beatles memorabilia is often a hit at these sorts of auctions.  Valuable items that have been auctioned off in the past include “John Lennon's doodles, manuscriptsletters, and guitar to the wool jacket that Ringo Starr wore in the 1965 film Help!” 

See Sarah Cascone, The Beatles’ Signed Original Contract Fetches $569,000 at Auction, Art Net News, September 29, 2015.

September 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Celebrities Should Be Careful When Planning Their Estates

Oscar-statueThis article discusses some of the unique financial situations that wealthy celebrities often find themselves in.  Often times drafting a simple will is not enough when there are vast amounts of assets that are at stake in a probate dispute.  This article provides a few examples of famous deceased celebrities that had bitter estate battles because they did not adequately plan for their death.  In many circumstance celebrities will fail to accurately measure the value of their name and likeness.  There are also many examples of young celebrities who make bad estate planning decisions because they came into wealth so suddenly.  Some of the estate planning tools that young newly rich celebrities should consider using include things like revocable trusts and having prenuptial agreements if they happen to get married.  

See Anthony Greco, Woe The Weak-Willed Celebrity, Private Wealth, September 11, 2015.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 11, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Music, Television, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Estate Planning For Wealthy Celebrities

HollywoodThe unique financial situation that many wealthy actors and musicians face often requires sophisticated advanced planning strategies.  Because of the media spotlight a wealthy celebrities spending habits can become public knowledge.  Celebrities often derive their wealth from many different sources that can include copyrights, trademarks, interests in certain productions, and royalties.  Heirs of celebrities can face many problems if the decedent did not plan properly.  Captive insurance companies can be a useful way to address certain risks with the wealth celebrities generate.  There are many ways a celebrity can structure the terms of their insurance plan in order to obtain certain tax benefits.  It is important for celebrities to work with a high caliber estate planner to develop a plan that fits with their individual needs and circumstances. 

See Russ Alan Prince, Ultra-Wealthy Entertainers Need Specialized Estate And Asset Protection Planning, Forbes, September 9, 2015.

September 10, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Settlement Reached In Jimi Hendrix Family Dispute

Jimi hendrix2The legal conflict between Jimi Hendrix’s brother, Leon Hendrix, and his adopted sister, Janie Hendrix, has been resolved.  Experience Hendrix, L.L.C., which is controlled by Janie Hendrix, has made a settlement agreement with HendrixLicensing.com, the company that Leon Hendrix is associated with.  Leon and Janie have both been fighting court battles since Jimi Hendrix passed away in 1970 without a Will.  This latest legal battle, which goes back to 2009, involved allegations of trademark infringement.  Janie Hendrix wanted damages from Leon Hendrix and his partner, Andrew Pitsicalis, for the unauthorized sale of merchandise that capitalized on the music legend’s fame. 

See Paul de Barros, Latest Jimi Hendrix family feud resolved in settlement, The Seattle Times, August 13, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 15, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Jimi Hendrix Estate Wins Court Battle

Jimi HendrixThe family of Jimi Hendrix has won a court ruling that will allow them to prevent companies from using the Hendrix name without authorization.  The musician’s father, James ‘AI’ Hendrix, founded Experience Hendrix L.L.C. in order to preserve his son’s legacy.  In 2009, Experience Hendrix filed a lawsuit against Andrew Pitsicalis alleging infringement of Hendrix family trademarks and deceptive trade practice violations.  The company is currently run by the rock legend’s sister, Jani Hendrix. Experience Hendrix has been successful in its battles with a number of unauthorized Jimmi Hendrix products that includes things like coffee and vodka. 

See Noise11, Jimi Hendrix Estate clamps down, Music News, August 13, 2015. 

August 14, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Old Songs Still Make Millions Thanks To Licensing Rights

BeatlesAll the news in the music industry, in recent years, has been about the decline in revenues as digital downloads and piracy cut into royalties. However, one segment of the industry is thriving, licensing the right to music for use in movies, television, and advertising. These right have the potential to bring in millions per year, especially when the song is instantly recognizable in certain genres such as holiday music or love songs. White Christmas, released over 50 years ago, brings in over $30 million per year while the ubiquitous Happy Birthday generates over $1 million per year in revenue. This is all because copyrights, at least in the United States and U.K., stay in force for decades after the death of the composer and has created a brisk trade in these rights by everyone from hedge funds to pension plans. Combined with relentless lobbying by the music industry to revoke the public's right to enjoy old works of art, these songs are likely to continue to generate massive amounts of money for the foreseeable future.

See Nick Clark, White Christmas will cost you a lot more than £10m, proving the lucrative after-life of popular classics, The Independent, August 7, 2015.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris for bringing this article to my attention.

August 10, 2015 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Stolen Stradivarius Violin That Was Missing For 35 Years Has Recently Been Found

StradivariusA very valuable 281-year-old Stradivarius violin that was stolen about 35 years ago has recently been found.  The rare violin vanished after a 1980 performance by the late Roman Totenberg in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The daughter of the late violinist, Nina Totenberg, does not know the current value of the violin.  Roman Totenberg purchased the rare instrument in 1943 for $15,000.  A different Stradivarius violin was sold in 2011 for $15 million, so this current violin is expected to have a similar value.  When the violin was discovered the Totenbergs were able to recover it after repaying their insurance company the $101,000 that it had distributed to them in 1980. 

See Geoff Edgers, Missing for 35 years, the stunning discovery of a stolen Stradivarius, The Washington Post, August 6, 2015.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 7, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Music | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sony Rescinds Settlement Agreement Involving Nina Simone Case

Nina simoneSony Music has recently filed paperwork to rescind a settlement agreement in a case involving Nina Simone’s estate that has been ongoing for 25 years.  The lawyers for Sony have been adamant about keeping the details of the settlement agreement private. 

Steven Ames Brown, who was Nina Simone’s attorney, had been assigned 40% of the rights to Simone’s music that he had previously recovered.  Brown claims that he only conveyed to Sony the reproduction rights to Nina Simone’s music and not the rights to the physical embodiment of the recordings.  Steven Brown and Sony Music had entered into a settlement agreement which Sony is now rescinding on claims that Brown has not lived up to his end of the bargain.

See Ian Holubiak, Nina Simone’s Secret 25-Year Lawsuit With Sony Comes To A Head, Classicalite, May 11, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

B.B. King's Daughters Want To Help With Late Musicians Memorial

Bb kingI have previously discussed the dispute between three of B.B. King's daughters and his manager and guardian Laverne Toney.  The three sisters now hope that Toney will include them in the planning in creating a memorial for the late blues legend.  The daughters were devastated when their father passed away before they ever got a chance to say a final goodbye.

See B.B. King’s Daughters Urge Manager To Let Them Help With Memorial Plans, World Entertainment News Network, May 16, 2015.  

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.


May 19, 2015 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Guardianship, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Heirs' Copyright Termination Rights Challenged by Ray Charles Foundation

GavelA soon to be decided case heard by the 9th Circuit last month will decide an important issue regarding an author's heirs right to terminate copyright assignments to a third party. Ray Charles willed royalty rights to the Ray Charles Foundation, but his children are attempting to terminate those rights under Section 304(c) of the U.S. Copyright Act. The foundation is appealing a district court decision in favor of the Charles children and finding the foundation lacked standing to challenge the termination, and is asserting a defense of first impression that they have standing to challenge because Charles' compositions at issue were "works made for hire."

See Jonathan B. Altschul, Ray Charles Case to Set Important Copyright Termination Precedent, Pay or Play, March 20, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 25, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)