Prince estate draws closer to settlement

After almost six years since the music legend's passing, his estate's value has almost been decided, as well as who will benefit from it.

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Court officials are edging closer to dividing up the estate of late global superstar Prince.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Wednesday that November tax filings show the Internal Revenue Service and Comerica Bank & Trust, the estate administrator, have reached an agreement on the total value of Prince’s assets.

Prince performs during the halftime show at the Super Bowl XLI football game in Miami on Feb. 4, 2007. (Photo: Chris O’Meara/AP, File)

The specific number hasn’t been disclosed, but it could be more than $100 million. The IRS last year determined Prince’s assets were worth $163.2 million. Comerica put the number at $82.3 million. IRS officials felt Comerica’s total was so low, they imposed a $6.4 million accuracy penalty on the estate.

The Carver County probate court still must approve the agreement. The court is set to begin discussions in February on how to divide up the assets.

The estate likely will be divided between New York music company Primary Wave and Prince’s three oldest heirs or their families. Primary Wave bought out all or most of the interests of Prince’s three youngest siblings.

In recent years, Primary Wave — described as a music publisher and talent management company on their website — has purchased the catalogs of some of music’s must iconic Black artists, including Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, Bob Marley, Smokey Robinson and Teddy Pendergrass.

Prince, 57, died of a fentanyl overdose at his Paisley Park home in Carver County on April 21, 2016. He didn’t have a will.

Yet having a will doesn’t mean that an estate’s administration will run smoothly after the artist’s death. As reported by theGrio, James Brown died with a very specific will that included funding scholarships for underprivileged kids in South Carolina and Georgia.

46th Annual Grammy Awards - Show
Beyoncé Knowles and Prince perform at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on Feb. 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

After he died on Christmas Day at the age of 74 in 2006, Brown’s estate was contested by his children and alleged wife, Tommie Rae Hynie, with whom he has a son. Hynie was ultimately ruled to be legally married to someone else at the time she was purportedly married to Brown.

Brown’s estate, with which Primary Wave has partnered, is still not fully settled, nor have the scholarships been funded, due to still-pending litigation.

During his lifetime, Prince was a passionate advocate of Black ownership and was often litigious when it came to the usage of his name and likeness. Before his death, he would not allow his music to be played on YouTube or streaming services, with the exception of Tidal, on which he partnered with then-owner Jay-Z.

Alicia Keys recently told a story on the Drink Champs podcast about Prince and how he managed his business when it came to requests to use his work. She wrote a song, “Like You’ll See Me Again,” that she realized in its original version had some musical similarities to “Purple Rain” and wanted his permission. He told her he didn’t want to “send people’s children to college off his s—.”

But it looks like, given that Prince’s three oldest siblings, John Nelson, Noreen Nelson and Sharon Nelson, are in their 70s and 80s, and the youngest have sold much of their interest to Primary Wave, what Prince didn’t want most is what’s likely to come to pass.

Watch Keys talk about her conversation with Prince below:

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