Beloved soul crooner, James Brown, died on Christmas Day in 2006, and 15 years after his death, Brown’s estate has finally been settled and sold.
For approximately $90 million, Primary Wave Music has purchased the assets of the late singer’s estate, including music rights, real estate, and control over Brown’s name and likeness. Russell L. Bauknight, the estate’s executor since 2009, stated the money will endow Brown’s scholarship trust in perpetuity. He will continue to work with Primary Wave as a board member, managing some of Brown’s assets.
The scholarships for underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia, where Brown was born and raised respectively, were delayed in one of the longest and most controversial estate settlements in entertainment history. Another reason for the 15-year delay was the involvement of Tommie Rae Hynie and Brown’s children.
According to The New York Times, Hynie was a singer whom Brown wed in 2001. However, it was later revealed that she was already married. She and Brown’s five children attempted to negotiate a settlement rewarding them with “significant shares” of the estate, setting aside his will that stated he wanted his money to go towards a scholarship fund for underprivileged children.
This deal, though, was nearly four years in the making. Though the full terms of the settlement are confidential, Bauknight revealed only Brown’s grandchildren and the scholarship trust are the beneficiaries of the estate. The grandchildren will receive an estimated $2 million, and the trust will receive the bulk of what remains. Bauknight anticipated the first scholarships will be awarded by the end of 2022.
Larry Mestel, the founder of Primary Wave, created a similar deal for half of Whitney Houston’s estate, and he also owns the largest interest of Prince’s estate. Following the purchase, Mestel is reportedly working on new projects honoring the Godfather of Soul’s legacy in an effort to present his music to a new generation of fans. This may include a Broadway musical, television shows, and the creation of a Graceland-like museum attraction at Brown’s mansion in South Carolina.