Lawsuits Rain Over Prince Tribute
One year after Prince’s death, multiple disputes are being brought to a Minnesota court regarding the October concert tribute to Prince featuring Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan.
AP Photo / Jim Mone – Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder
“Prince Tribute Concert,” Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minn.
Responsibility for the concert fell to the Bremer Trust, the court-approved administrator of the estate. Advisers L. Londell McMillan and Charles Koppelman made many of the moves to organize the event, the first of which was to hire New York-based promoter Jobu Presents, which dropped out two months before the show and is now suing Bremer.
Jobu is claiming it accepted the job under the premise that many artists had already signed on to play the gig and that it would be held as a charitable event, both of which were not so simple. Artists like Sheila E., who had originally expressed interest in performing at a tribute, ended up being unavailable at the selected date. The event would be benefiting Paisley Park, Prince’s former home which has now become a for-profit museum that cannot accept private donations.
These misrepresentations, Jobu said, made booking the show much more complicated than Bremer originally let on, and the promoter is suing for unspecified damages.
Ultimately, Randi Levy of Rose Presents came onboard at the 11th hour to make sure the concert happened, making moves like switching the venue, shipping in top-notch sound, light and video techs, and financing the whole shebang. The concert did take place despite reported cancellations from John Mayer, Christina Aguilera, and Anita Baker.
Now, two of Prince’s heirs are suing Bremer, saying it was improper for Koppelman to loan Jobu Presents $2 million as part of a guarantee to the estate.
Several Prince relatives are also suing McMillan for not paying the estate the $7 million it was promised for allowing the event.
Bremer Trust is also facing a suit from attorney Laura Halferty, who is claiming she provided legal services and advice worth about $1.6 million, which she says she is still owed.
Prince left behind a rich musical legacy worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but he did not leave behind a will or any sort of plan for how his assets should be divided.
“I think there will be trouble surrounding his estate for many, many years,” lawyer Andy Mayoras told the StarTribune. “It was a huge mistake not having a will, and not just in terms of the money lost [in taxes]. For an artist who so carefully safeguarded his music, image and likeness, he left behind no say in who runs the show or what they do with it.”
Money is starting to roll in from streaming deals, real estate and licensing, though, so regardless of who gets what, it seems clear that members of Prince’s family will ultimately end up richer.