James Brown’s Estate To Fulfill Dying Wish After Selling for $90M

In Summary

Fans and supporters of the late James Brown are feeling good, as his estate has finally sold for nearly $90 million after a 15-year dispute.

James Brown’s estate has been sold to Primary Wave for an estimated $90 million, allowing the late musician to fulfill his wish of funding scholarships for underprivileged students, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The scholarships will help children in Brown’s native state of South Carolina and in Georgia, where he rose to fame in the mid-1950s as the singer of “Try Me.” 

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“James Brown was one of the greatest musical entertainers of all time, and one of the greatest legends of the music business,” Larry Mestel, the company’s founder, told The New York Times. “That fits what we do like a glove.” 

In July, the Associated Press reported Brown’s family had reached an agreement over his estate, though no specifics were provided at the time. 

His estate dwindled due to years of drug abuse and financial mismanagement and, following his death on Christmas Day in 2006 at the age of 73, a host of people attempted to claim the singer’s assets. More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed over the years, with court estimates ranging from $5 million to more than $100 million. 

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Two cases involving prior executor Adele Pope are on appeal and must be settled before the money can be disbursed, with current executor Russell L. Bauknight stating that the trust aims to start distributing scholarships by the end of 2022. 

Brown’s inheritance would have gone to a charitable trust for roughly half of his assets, a quarter to his former partner Tomi Rae Hynie and the remaining balance to his adult children under a 2009 settlement arrangement. The state Supreme Court overturned the settlement in 2013, saying then-Attorney General Henry McMaster failed to honor Brown’s wishes for the majority of his money to go to charity. 

Before his death of congestive heart failure, Brown came to be known as the “Godfather of Soul” and the inventor of funk. He grew up listening to gospel music at church and learned to play the drums, guitar and piano from his neighbors, according to Smithsonian Magazine

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Smithsonian reported Brown’s music and image can be exploited in new ways under Primary Wave’s ownership. As a result of their connection with Whitney Houston’s estate, the company has a cosmetics line, a movie, a Broadway performance and a hologram tour in the works.

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