Lisa Marie sells Elvis rights for $100m
December 17, 2004
Lisa Marie Talks about the sale of the Estate Sale
Here is part of an interview Lisa Marie did with Rolling Stone magazine on the Estate Sale.
Lisa Marie Presley says she didn't 'go nuts'.
Doing the best thing
When Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie sold eighty-five percent of the multi-million Elvis Presley Estates last month to Robert F.X. Sillerman, the billionaire investor announced his intention to 'take risks on bigger opportunities' with the King's name and image.
Speaking exclusively with Rolling Stone, Presley confesses that the decision to sell was not easy, and expresses confidence in the direction in which Sillerman will take the Elvis brand. 'It's not like I just went nuts and sold it', says Lisa Marie, who in reality spent years searching for the right buyer. 'I don't know if people have this misconception that we're going to build a giant casino on the lawn of Graceland, or that Elvis condoms are going to be mass-distributed throughout the world, but that's not going to happen'.
Sillerman, who will manage the estate through his company CFX, declined to offer specific marketing plans, but he says people shouldn't expect Elvis to start appearing in TV commercials, or that the market will be flooded with T-shirts and mini-Graceland models. 'Less is more', he says. 'I think overexposure diminishes the value of Elvis'. He does, however, see big money in Elvis' future -- he may invest in projects such as Elvis-themed entertainment in Las Vegas or in Japan and Europe, where the King's allure is huge. More than half of the 10 million-plus sales of the 2002 release 30 #1 Hits came from outside America.
Lisa Marie retains fifteen percent of the estate, as well as the deed to Graceland and all of Elvis' personal belongings. She also has veto power over any unorthodox new venture. 'He cannot do anything that hasn't been historically done', Presley says of Sillerman. 'That's the thing we still wanted control of, and that was a big part of our process: 'Is this person going to do something crazy that we have no control over' No stone was left unturned in making sure that that wasn't the case. That's why it took a long time to find the right person'.
Sillerman bought the bulk of the estate for cash, stocks and debt forgiveness totaling $100 million, including fifty percent of Elvis' publishing rights (the singer sold the majority of his master rights back to RCA in 1973). The mogul -- who sold his massive concert-promotion business, SFX Entertainment, to radio conglomerate Clear Channel in 2001 for more than $4 billion -- plans to form partnerships with a variety of artists through CFX.
Elvis, who would have turned seventy on January 8th, has topped Forbes' list of top dead-celebrity incomes for the past four years; in 2003 the King made a profit of $12 million on nearly $45 million in revenues, mostly generated from merchandising and Graceland tourism. In December, a fan in North Carolina used eBay to sell some water from a Styrofoam cup that Elvis supposedly drank from -- for $455. (He recently sold an appearance by the cup itself. Winning bid: $305.)
Though some fans on Elvis Web sites have expressed outrage over the estate's sale, Lisa Marie says her father would be pleased. 'Would he have wanted me to do the best thing for the future, for expanding the estate, for protecting his family?' she asks. 'The answer would have been 'Hell, yes'.
Below is a press release from EPE
December 16, 2004 -- Robert F.X. Sillerman and his new media and entertainment company, which will be named CKX, Inc., have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a majority interest in the assets comprising the estate of Elvis Presley.
The new partnership will conduct all business activities concerning EPE, Graceland and tour operations, however the transaction was structured so that the title to Graceland and its 13.6-acre grounds in Memphis, TN, and most of Elvis' personal effects remain with Lisa Marie Presley.
The new partnership includes all trademark rights to the name, likeness and image of Elvis Presley and all EPE-owned intellectual property, including its collection of photographs, archival documents and footage, and EPE's successful music publishing catalog, as well as the Graceland visitor center complex and Heartbreak Hotel across the street from the mansion and all other EPE real estate investments.
In a related transaction, Mr. Sillerman announced that he expects, through an affiliated entity, to acquire approximately 94 percent of the common equity of Sports Entertainment Enterprises, Inc. [OTC BB:SPEA.OB], an inactive publicly traded company, through which the business of CKX will be conducted. Please see Mr. Sillerman's and SPEA's releases for further information on this transaction.
'For the past few years I've been looking for someone to join forces with to expand the many facets of EPE, to take it to new levels internationally, and to make it an even greater force in the entertainment industry', said Lisa Marie Presley, singer/songwriter and sole heir to the Elvis Presley Estate. 'I feel confident that Bob Sillerman and his team are the right people to do this with. My greatest responsibility to my father is to preserve and protect his legacy, and this is an exciting new structure that opens up an incredible array of opportunities with a major infusion of new investment capital to do just that', continued Presley. 'It's the ideal partnership in that I retain Graceland and my father's personal effects, yet joining forces with Bob Sillerman will give us the opportunity to grow even further the intellectual and entertainment properties'.
Commenting on the transaction, Mr. Sillerman said, 'I am extremely excited about our new venture, which we believe will bring unique concepts to different aspects of the utilization of entertainment content and will challenge the current models of distribution and consumption of content. I am fully committed to the success of CKX and there is no better way to launch our new company than by assuming the opportunity and responsibility, together with the Presley family and the current management of Elvis Presley Enterprises, of continuing and expanding the heritage of Elvis Presley. I believe Elvis to be the single most significant icon in American pop culture'. No staffing or personnel changes are anticipated within the EPE organization. Priscilla Presley remains as an executive consultant, Jack Soden remains as CEO and Gary Hovey remains Executive Vice President and head of the Los Angeles office. All of EPE's management team and staff will remain in place and Graceland tour operations will continue with business as usual. EPE was created in 1980 by Priscilla Presley on behalf of the Elvis Presley estate. Its business extends far beyond the Graceland operation. It includes worldwide licensing of Elvis-related products and ventures, the development of Elvis-related music, film, video, television and stage productions, the ongoing development of EPE's Internet presence, the management of significant music publishing assets, the Heartbreak Hotel in Memphis and more.
Mr. Sillerman was the founder, a major shareholder and served as Executive Chairman of SFX Entertainment from its inception in 1997 until its sale to Clear Channel Communications in August 2000. SFX Entertainment was the largest presenter, promoter and producer of live events in the world.
Prior to that, Mr. Sillerman was a founder, major shareholder and served as Executive Chairman of SFX Broadcasting, a major owner and operator of radio stations, from its inception in 1992 through its sale in 1998 to an affiliate of buyout firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst.
Note from EPE : Questions/Comments?
Knowing of what great interest this news is to Elvis fans worldwide, they anticipate many e-mail messages with inquiries and comments. EPE will not be able to answer all those messages individually. However, they will be posting more information here in the news section on their site as it becomes available to share with you and they will be constructing a special Frequently Asked Questions section to respond to the collected inquiries and comments. Please send any messages to our general company e-mail address Contact Us Your message will be acknowledged with a form response and then added to the file EPE will use as a reference for constructing the FAQ and the continuing news postings about this great new development for Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. and the world of Elvis at large. Thank you very much.
The move was funded through a complicated transaction in which Sillerman's RFX acquired a 94% controlling interest in Sports Entertainment Enterprises for $3.43 million.
In exchange for total consideration of approximately $100 million, Lisa Marie Presley will contribute 85% of the outstanding equity interests of the assets comprising her father's estate. She will retain a 15% interest in the two Presley entities, which will operate as 85%-controlled subsidiaries of Sillerman's newly formed media and entertainment company, CKX, Inc. The Elvis businesses had total revenue of $44.9 million for 2003 and $37.9 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2004. Net operating income before depreciation and amortization for those periods was $12 million and $9.4 million, respectively.
A Personal Note from Lisa Marie Presley :
Hello and Happy Holidays!
I would like to further clarify and ease any weary minds (If there are any about the recent business announcement.) First off, companies merge all the time and while it is true that EPE has been successfully holding its own for 25 years, myself, my mother and the board came to realize that in order to take the business to a whole different level, merging with another provenly successful team would accomplish that.
The search for the right person has been going on for years, none of us at EPE would have done this if it weren't in the best interest of my father and his legacy. No stone was left unturned in making sure that business will be run as it historically has been, with integrity, always preserving and protecting my father.
The executives, my mother and myself remain very active in the operations of Graceland and its entities. What is and has been done will remain, and merging with Bob Sillerman and his team simply gives us new opportunities that we didn't have before.
Business-wise any company can always grow, what is predominately sacred and can never be touched is Graceland itself and its contents and artifacts and that is and remains mine and my family's forever.
Frankly, we are all united and excited about this and I send my best wishes to you and yours for the holidays.
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