Prince left no will, says sister

Prince's death and lack of a will has caused confusion over who will inherit his vast fortune.
Tyka Nelson.

NEW YORK • Music superstar Prince left no known will when he died last week, his sister said in court documents on Tuesday listing herself and five half-siblings as heirs to a legacy estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

Singer Tyka Nelson asked that a special administrator be appointed to handle Prince's affairs and that she be appointed to probate his estate.

In documents filed in a Minnesota court, Nelson, who is Prince's only full sibling, said he died without a spouse, children or surviving parents, and that "I do not know of the existence of a will and have no reason to believe that the decedent executed testamentary documents in any form".

Prince, born Prince Rogers Nelson, was married and divorced twice. Under Minnesota law, his assets are likely to be split evenly among the siblings, according to attorney Stephen Hopkins.

The value of his music catalogue alone has been estimated at more than US$500 million (S$647.6 million), Prince's first manager Owen Husney said last week. That included potential licensing rights for film, television, commercials and video games.

Prince was found dead at age 57 last Thursday at his Paisley Park Studios compound in Minneapolis.

Mr Michael Kosnitzky, a New York- and Miami-based attorney, said he was surprised Prince had died without a will, given his tendency to control his image, likeness, name and recordings.

"That he would put himself in a position that he would lose control of those things at death I found very surprising," he said. "What is to stop someone who controls his estate from saying that they're going to promote purple Skittles?" he said, referring to Prince's signature colour and the popular candy, adding that he did not think Prince would approve.

Nelson, 55, proposed the Bremer Bank in Minnesota as special administrator, saying it had done business for years with Prince.

Since his death, Prince has sold at least 650,000 albums and 2.8 million tracks in the United States, according to Nielsen.

Aside from royalties from his more than 30 albums, he regained ownership of his master recordings after a dispute with his Warner Bros music label. He was also said to have a cache of unheard recordings, including an album cut with late jazz trumpet great Miles Davis.

Attorney Hopkins predicted a long, drawn-out case over Prince's assets, probably lasting years.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2016, with the headline 'Prince left no will, says sister'. Print Edition | Subscribe