Legal Battle Over Prince’s Estate Finally Comes to an End

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The six-year battle over Prince’s estate has finally ended following the approval of an agreement between parties over the late singer’s $156 million estate.

Comerica Bank & Trust — the estate’s administrator — and the IRS revealed the valuation at a hearing in Jan. 2022, a figure that encompasses both Prince’s real estate holdings and the value of his catalog and legendary vault of unreleased recordings, the Star Tribune previously reported. A Minnesota judge signed off on the agreement at a hearing Friday, July 29.

The valuation was previously agreed upon by lawyers of six of Prince’s heirs, two of whom have died during the lengthy estate battle that has languished in courts since his death in 2016; Prince did not have a will at the time of his death.

The valuation came six months after three of Prince’s heirs (including the family of half-brother Alfred Jackson, an heir who died in 2019) reached deals with the independent music publisher and talent management company Primary Wave to sell their stakes in their brother’s estate, a deal that included a portion of Prince’s royalties from his masters, his writer’s share, name and likeness, and Paisley Park property; Prince’s three oldest heirs — including half-brother John Nelson, who died in September 2021, and two half-siblings in their 80s — opted not to partake in the agreement, which left Primary Wave with the single largest stake (but not a majority stake) in the Prince estate with 42 percent.

“Prince was an iconic superstar and this transfer out of the court’s jurisdiction puts in place professional, skilled management,” Primary Wave said Friday following the judge’s approval of the agreement (via Billboard). “When we announced our acquisition of the additional expectancy interests in the estate last year bringing our ownership interest to 50%, our goal was to protect and grow Prince’s incomparable legacy. With the distribution of estate assets, we look forward to a strong and productive working relationship.”

With a $156 million valuation in place — Comerica previously gave the estate an $82.3 million appraisal, while the IRS estimated it was worth $163.2 million in 2020 — the estate will be split among Primary Wave and the three oldest heirs (or their families) as soon as February. Prince’s lawyer L. Londell McMillan, who now represents the three oldest heirs, said at Friday’s hearing, “It has been a long six years.”

McMillan previously said after half of Prince’s heirs made the Primary Wave deal, “No matter what, we are going to fight to preserve the legacy of Prince. We would like to bring the purple back and actually do things the way Prince did,” while adding in a statement, “We will work with Primary Wave and any other party that holds interest in the estate.”