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Lawyers overseeing the estate of pop star Prince are considering opening his massive Minnesota complex known as Paisley Park to the public and offering guided tours, according to newly released probate court filings.
News of the plans surfaced for the first time in a court order issued by the judge overseeing the division of the late pop star's estate, whose worth various experts have estimated at $150 million to $300 million.
Earlier this week, lawyers for Bremer Trust, the special administrator appointed to temporarily oversee Prince's estate, sought permission (PDF) from Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide to hire "entertainment" and "monetization" experts.
The entertainment experts would help convert some of Prince's holdings into cash, according to the application. The monetization experts would provide advice on how to develop Paisley Park into a business enterprise that could include tours of the sprawling compound in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
The idea to build Paisley Park was reportedly conceived in 1983 during the filming of "Purple Rain."
Prince, who would have turned 58 on Tuesday, died in April from an overdose of the powerful opioid painkiller fentanyl. A criminal investigation is underway to determine where the artist obtained the narcotics that ultimately killed him. No charges have been filed.
'A New Business'
Lawyers for Bremer Trust sought the court's permission (PDF) to hire experts to "assist in the development and/or commencement of a new business [and] provide advice and counsel on how to manage public tours of the grounds."
The effort was aimed at creating a "new business to be managed by the Estate, rather than to preserve and manage existing businesses owned by the Deceased at the time of his death."
Eide initially rejected Bremer Trust's request to hire the experts, but in an order released later Wednesday, he granted the trust the authority to hire experts — provided that any contract does not extend beyond Nov. 2, when the special administrator's court-appointed authority expires.
Eide's orders Wednesday were the first explicit indications that administrators are considering opening the 55,000-square-foot complex, which includes offices, living quarters, two recording studios and a 12,400-square-foot sound stage, to the public.
In response to Bremer Trust's request last week, attorneys for Colorado inmate Carlin Q. Williams, who claims to be Prince's son, countered in a court filing that hiring such experts would be premature, and "exceeds the purpose and scope of the limited authority" granted by the court.
Instead, lawyers for Williams countered, the true heirs to the estate should be clarified first and then allowed to petition the court to appoint a personal representative to succeed Bremer Trust in managing Prince's holdings going forward.
Potential heirs to Prince's estate must file a claim by Friday, according to an order Eide issued Monday.
Also last week, Eide approved a protocol in which potential claimants will have a week after filing an initial notice to complete a questionnaire detailing their alleged relationship and supporting documentation.
Within three days of that filing, Bremer Trust will let the claimants know whether their kinship has been confirmed or ruled out or whether DNA testing is required.
In addition to Williams, Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson, six half-siblings, and an alleged niece and grand-niece have petitioned the court to certify them as legitimate heirs to his fortune. On Monday, Norman Yates Carthens of Barnwell, South Carolina, came forward to claim he is Prince's adopted son.
The next hearing in the probate case is scheduled for June 27.