James Brown Estate Ends 15 Years of Internal Disputes with $90 Million Sale

Primary Wave has acquired the music assets, publishing, and master income stream of James Brown in a massive estate sale, which includes the rights to the icon’s name and likeness.

At the time of his death in 2006, James Brown left behind a complicated set of instructions for the administrators of his catalog and estate. Save for a $2 million chunk reserved for his grandchildren, the majority of Brown’s estate was intended for the establishment of a scholarship fund for underserved children in South Carolina and Georgia. Over the last 15 years, Brown’s heirs, who were reportedly left a collection of his personal possessions and stage attire, have disputed the value of the icon’s estate and struggled to fund the aforementioned scholarship program.

But a recently approved acquisition of the estate should squash the internal disputes and provide ample allocations for the scholarship fund. According to The New York Times, Primary Wave, the New York-based company that recently struck deals with the estates of both Whitney Houston and Prince, has purchased the Brown estate for a reported $90 million. The sale turns over ownership of Brown’s music assets, publishing, and master income stream, as well as the rights to the icon’s name and likeness. Money from the sale will go towards funding Brown’s scholarship program “in perpetuity” and a provision of the deal will break off a “small percentage” of future deals on behalf of the estate for the scholarship program. The deal also covers a chunk of Brown’s real estate in South Carolina, where Primary Wave hopes to build a “Graceland-like” museum.

“James Brown was one of the greatest musical entertainers of all time, and one of the greatest legends of the music business,” said Larry Mestel, founder of Primary Wave. “That fits what we do like a glove.” Specific plans for Brown’s catalog have yet to be unveiled. However, Mestel seems committed to making Brown’s music and legacy accessible to a new generation of fans by way of Broadway musicals and/or TV and film projects.




Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

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