It seems things may finally be getting “back on the good foot” when it comes to the circumstances surrounding the James Brown estate.
According to Vanity Fair, after two months of “lengthy mediation discussions,” a settlement was finally reached over the weekend as shared in a joint statement from Brown’s children and estate administrator Russell Bauknight. Though specific details remain undisclosed, the resolve will reportedly cover any and all outstanding litigation, as well as lay the groundwork to fulfill Brown’s wish to fund scholarships for underprivileged children in Georgia and South Carolina.
Speaking on the settlement, Marc Toberoff, an attorney for nine of Brown’s heirs (five children, three grandchildren and the estate of another child) said only: “The matter has been settled.”
There has been controversy after controversy since the 2006 death of the “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” singer, most of which have been spawned by rumors of conspiracy, “back-room deals” and varying value estimates of Brown’s estate. Bauknight’s numbers valued Brown’s assets at $4.7 million while a handful of other quotes have been somewhere near the $100 million range, songwriting copyrights not included.
Speaking of copyrights, The New York Times also reported that Brown’s children and grandchildren were “known to be seeking shares of the proceeds” that would come as a result of owning those rights. Though Brown transferred ownership of his songs to a plethora of publishers, certain federal laws give the writer or their heirs permission to terminate any agreement decades after the initial deal and regain full ownership. (And to then do what they please with them after the fact.) If given control, his heirs would stand to benefit from music streaming, radio play, and the licensing of songs for movies and TV commercials, as well as any profits that could be made from selling his music catalog back to any publishers or investors.
Here’s hoping that this chapter will come to a smooth and easy close for all parties involved.