Prince Estate Prepares For Third Administrator

8/8/2017 by Hannah Karp (Billboard Music News)

Since Prince died just over a year ago, his estate has been overseen by two different administrators. Now a judge is readying to bring in a third.

Last week, a lawyer representing the estate’s current representative, Comerica Bank & Trust, filed a letter asking the judge overseeing the case to appoint an additional “special administrator” that could “pursue claims” on behalf of the estate that Comerica can’t, due to conflicts of interest. The letter also suggested that the judge appoint an attorney to the role. While it wasn’t clear from the heavily redacted letter which claims such an administrator might pursue, several of Prince’s heirs have called in previous court filings for an investigation into the some of the deals inked on the estate’s behalf by Bremer Trust, which served as the estate’s special administrator until February.

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Those deals included a $31 million agreement with Universal Music Group that had given the label the licensing rights to some of Prince’s recorded music and his “vault” of unreleased works. A judge voided that deal last month amid uncertainty surrounding whether the rights granted to UMG conflicted with rights that Warner Music Group already owned. Bremer’s court-appointed entertainment advisors, L. Londell McMillan and Charles Koppelman, earned a combined 10% commission on that deal and others they negotiated for Bremer.

Now that the deal has been rescinded, the Prince estate can shop the rights elsewhere, but is likely to earn far less for them, raising questions among some close to the estate over whom to hold liable for the botched deal. Bremer and both advisors previously told Billboard they stand by their work, while the judge didn’t pin blame in his order to void the deal.

 

Comerica can’t take a position on Bremer’s liability because the court ordered it to enter into a “common interest agreement” that precludes the two from being adverse parties. That agreement “creates a unique problem” for the estate, according to a court filing by some heir lawyers earlier this year, making it unclear “who should bring any adverse claims against the special administrator,” and “there are undoubtedly potential claims that exist.”

On Monday, the judge granted a motion to allow all filings related to the “second special administrator” to be filed under seal.

 

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