×

Prince’s Estate Moves Toward Legal Action Against Former Advisers

A series of heavily redacted documents made public Monday indicate that Prince’s estate is preparing to take legal action against former special music advisors L. Londell McMillan and Charles Koppelman, a source close to the situation confirmed to Variety.

Comerica Bank, which was named the estate’s corporate personal representative in January, has moved to appoint a special administrator to “investigate and, if warranted, pursue claims on behalf of the estate … in a situation where the Personal Representative has a conflict of interest.” This is believed to be the case between Comerica and Bremer Bank, which was the estate’s previous, temporary administrator. The documents reference a conference call held on July 28 that included representatives for the two banks, Prince’s six heirs, and McMillan and Koppelman.

The pair executed several deals for the estate during their six-month stint in the role — including publishing and merchandising deals (both with Universal) and performing rights (with Global Music Rights) — but a $31 million recorded-music deal (also with Universal) announced in February was rescinded last month after it became clear that the assets in question had been misrepresented. A tribute concert held in Minneapolis in October was also beset by accusations of mismanagement.

Documents indicate that McMillan and Koppelman received a 10% commission on deals they closed for the estate, although the status of their commission on the Universal recorded-music deal remains undetermined.

Troy Carter, who replaced McMillan and Koppelman as the estate’s special music advisor in April, is not mentioned in the unredacted segments of the documents.

While there has been talk of fraud charges with regard to the rescinded Universal recorded-music deal, several informed parties tell Variety a less extreme solution to the issue is more likely. In a court document released in June, Universal wrote that McMillan said on June 22 that the Warner agreement “could have been drafted better,” and “there is no dispute that these rights are confusing.”

Reached by Variety hours after the Universal recorded-music deal was nullified, McMillan said: “Pleased this is resolved. We respect the Court’s decision. Comerica chose to rescind and I would have chosen otherwise than released Prince music with UMG or independently, as Prince did. There was no wrongdoing on our end. We stand by our work.”

Confusion over the deal, which covered much of Prince’s recorded works after the termination of his 19-year-long initial deal with Warner Bros. in 1996, began as soon as it was announced in February. The announcement said that “beginning [in 2018], UMG will obtain U.S. rights to certain renowned Prince albums released from 1979 to 1995” — the years that the artist was signed with Warner Bros. Records and released his most commercially successful recordings by far, including the “1999,” “Purple Rain,” “Parade,” “Batman,” and “Diamonds and Pearls” albums. However, Prince had cut a new deal with Warner in 2014 that sources say garnered him the rights to the majority of his work released on the label — albeit with certain key exceptions.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Maya Thurman Hawke at the Premiere

    Maya Hawke Debuts Two Singles Ahead of Album Release

    Fresh off her Manson cult role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Maya Hawke is turning to music. The “Stranger Things” star released two new singles Friday, “To Love a Boy” and “Stay Open,” both of which will appear on her yet-to-be-titled upcoming album. Hawke wrote the lyrics and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jesse [...]

  • Woodstock Festival of Arts and Music

    As Woodstock Turns 50, the Fest's 10 Most Sacred Music Moments (Watch)

    Cars were left abandoned along the New York Interstate. Electrical and speaker systems fuzzed and popped. Amps blew then went silent. The rain was endless as the mud sank deep and rank. Young children ran naked and dazed through crowds of strangers. Food was scarce. Water, unclean. Looking back, Woodstock seems a more apocalyptic, than [...]

  • 'ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band

    Film Review: 'ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band From Texas'

    Settling in to watch “ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” you may have a burning question that applies to almost no other rock documentary, and that is: Who, exactly, are these guys? The ones behind the beards? If you’re old enough, of course, you probably know that ZZ Top started out, in 1969, [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST

    Jay-Z to Acquire Ownership Stake in NFL Team (Report)

    Jay-Z will soon acquire a “significant ownership interest” in an NFL team, TMZ reported on Friday. The team was not disclosed, but a source told the site the deal will happen in the “near future,” adding that the billionaire rapper “wants to continue to be a change agent for the NFL.” Jay-Z’s company, Roc Nation, [...]

  • (L-R) NELL WILLIAMS as Eliza, VIVEIK

    How 'Blinded by the Light' Brought Bruce Springsteen's Music to the Screen for a Song

    Blinded by the Light co-writer/director Gurinder Chadha knows firsthand what it feels like to be an outsider. Born in Kenya when the country was a British colony, she grew up part of the Indian/Asian diaspora who made their way from East Africa to London. For that reason, the 59-year-old’s movies has always dealt with the [...]

  • Blake Shelton, Trace AdkinsCMA Music Festival

    Blake Shelton Takes a Shot at 'Old Town Road' in New Single

    Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins have just released a duet, “Hell Right,” that seems to have a beef with “Old Town Road.” But is it a light-hearted, maybe even affectionate slam — or should anyone read culture-war significance into the two country stars expressing a preference for Hank Williams Jr. over Lil Nas X, the breakout [...]

  • Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

    Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

    The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the next big music copyright case on the horizon following the Katy Perry “Dark Horse” decision, and taken Led Zeppelin’s side in the long-running copyright dispute that pits the writers of the group’s anthem “Stairway to Heaven” against the publishers of the earlier song “Taurus” by [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content