Less that two years after the messy legal battle over the assets of Prince Rogers Nelson appeared to have been resolved, a new filing this week has thrown one half of the estate into turmoil.
Filing in a Delaware court on Wed., Jan. 10, the managers of Prince Legacy, one of the two holding companies that control Prince’s $156 million estate, alleged that two of Prince’s half-siblings (as well as his niece and nephew) have been attempting to usurp control of the company.
For context: at the time of his death in 2016, Prince did not have a will, and he had no children. This meant that the matter of sorting out ownership to his extremely valuable publishing rights and masters was a complex, multi-year saga, with the star’s six half-siblings all eventually being ruled his heirs.
In 2022, the long ordeal finally seemed to have reached a conclusion, with a court deciding to split the rights to the star’s assets evenly between two different camps, each representing three of Prince’s half-siblings. Management company Primary Wave would represent one half, with three of Prince’s half-siblings selling their shares of the estate to the company. Meanwhile, holding company Prince Legacy LLC (managed by L. Londell McMillan and Charles Spicer) would represent the other three heirs.
The arrangement appeared to be working, and just earlier this week both groups issued a joint press release announcing an in-development Broadway musical based on Prince’s landmark Purple Rain. However, this new lawsuit could potentially throw future Prince releases and endeavors into doubt.
The present trouble stems from the second company in the agreement, Prince Legacy. Managers McMillan and Spicer allege in the filing that Prince’s half-sisters Sharon Nelson and Norrine Nelson, niece Breanna Nelson, and nephew Allen Nelson have been attempting to usurp McMillan and Spicer for control of the company. The filing also alleges that Sharon Nelson and Norrine Nelson have attempted to sell their shares of Prince’s assets to Primary Wave, which would disrupt the joint agreement that was reached in 2022.
As reported by Billboard, the filing claims that: “The Individual defendants lack any business and management experience, have no experience in the music and entertainment industries, and have no experience negotiating and managing high-level deals in the entertainment industry. They have a documented history of infighting. Based on the amount and complexity of the work that Prince Legacy is involved with, they are simply not capable of stepping in and managing its business.”
The defendants in the case have yet to publicly respond to the filing. Primary Wave, which represents the other 50% of Prince’s assets, is not involved in the matter.
What this will mean for the future of the Prince catalog remains to be seen. Since Prince’s death, there have been a number of posthumous releases, most notably the previously unreleased studio album Welcome 2 America and the demo collections Piano and a Microphone 1983 and Originals, all three of which charted in the top 20 of the U.S. album chart. Classic Prince albums Purple Rain, 1999, Sign o’ the Times and Diamonds and Pearls have all also been re-released in remastered or deluxe editions in recent years.