Prince's estate can seek business, says court

NEW YORK • A judge on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for an administrator in charge of Prince's estate to pursue business deals, rejecting objections from a prisoner who says he is the pop star's son.

The judge in the Minneapolis-St Paul suburbs said the outside administrator needed to "take all prudent steps to monetise" work of the legendary artist.

"The court recognises that the estate will likely not be able to pay the entire tax obligation when it becomes due and some interest and, perhaps, some penalties, are likely before the entire tax obligation is paid," Carver County Judge Kevin Eide wrote. He said that, while the administrator's tenure was limited, it was unlikely that all legal questions on Prince's heirs would be settled in the next two months.

Bremer Trust was put in charge of Prince's affairs days after his April 21 death for a six-month period on the advice of his sister and five half- siblings. Bremer Trust had told the court that it hoped to hire outside experts on the entertainment industry as it struggles to balance the books on Prince's sprawling estate, independently estimated to be worth anywhere from US$100 to US$300 million (S$404 million).

Mr Doug Peterson, a lawyer for Bremer Trust, told the court that the administrator did not intend to reach long-term contracts but said an exception may be in hiring an expert to make profit out of Prince's Paisley Park complex.

Paisley Park, a mythic site for Prince fans on the outskirts of Minneapolis-St Paul that has a state-of-the-art studio and vaults of unreleased material, has only been open to visitors when Prince threw parties, often at the last minute.

A lawyer for Carlin Williams, who says he is Prince's son, had filed an objection, saying it was premature to focus on business development and the first priority should be to determine the singer's rightful heirs.

Williams, a little-known rapper in Kansas City who has performed songs disparaging Prince, could potentially be the sole heir to the fortune if he is determined to be his son. He is serving a sentence in a high-security federal prison in Florence, Colorado for gun possession in a stolen car. He is not scheduled for release until late 2020. His mother said under oath that she had sex with the then rising star in 1976 in a Kansas City hotel.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'Prince's estate can seek business, says court'. Print Edition | Subscribe