James Brown’s estate sells for £68million

The deal includes the late singer's publishing, master income stream, and name and likeness rights

James Brown‘s estate has been sold to publishing and management company Primary Wave, for an estimated at $90million (£68million).

According to reports by Rolling Stone, the deal includes the entirety of Brown’s publishing, master income stream, and name and likeness rights that were owned by the estate.

This blockbuster deal follows news earlier this year that Brown‘s family had finally settled a 15 year legal wrangle over the late singer’s estate. He had specified in his will in 2000 that he would leave very little to his heirs, other than a $2million (£1.46million) scholarship fund for his grandchildren.


Most of his assets were left to establish scholarships for underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia. But this led to contention among his daughters Deanna Brown-Thomas and Yamma Brown, among others, who found a way to inherit potentially millions of dollars, following his death in 2006.

Another complication centred around Tommie Rae Hynie, who claimed to be Brown’s wife even though, South Carolina courts determined later, she was married to another man at the time of her marriage to Brown. In June 2020, the Supreme Court in his home state of South Carolina eventually ruled Hynie was not the late singer’s legal wife, ruling out much of her influence over the estate.

James Brown. Photo by KMazur/WireImage

Primary Wave’s founder and CEO Larry Mestel has commented that the sale of the estate will help fund the scholarships Brown originally had in mind. Small percentages of earnings from future deals from his music will go towards setting up the scholarships. This, however, will not happen until ongoing lawsuits filed by Adele Pope, a former executor of Brown’s will, and Russell Bauknight, the fiduciary for the James Brown Estate and Trust, have been resolved.

Bauknight said in a statement: “The James Brown Estate and related Trust are very proud and excited to work with Larry Mestel and Primary Wave. We believe that our choice of professionals to take the James Brown Legacy to the next level is going to prove to be one of the most successful events in Mr. Brown’s long history in show business.”

Mestel added: “Wow, I am awed that Primary Wave has been chosen by the estate of James to partner with the Godfather of Soul. We are thrilled to help continue the expansion of his influence and further his legacy through both his music and The James Brown 2000 Trust.”


Primary Wave have previously been involved in deals with artists like Stevie Nicks and the estates of Whitney Houston and Prince. With legacy artists increasingly looking to sell song rights as part of the plans for their estates, Primary Wave and other similar companies have taken on a lead role in the booming song acquisition market.

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