Artist News

Prince’s “brother” cut from $300 million estate

By | Published on Thursday 27 October 2016


The legal wrangling to work out who are the legitimate heirs of Prince continues, and what we’ve learned this week is that just because you refer to someone as your “brother” that doesn’t make them your brother, not in the eyes of the law anyway. Who knew?

As previously reported, Prince died earlier this year without making a will, and various parties subsequently came forward claiming to be a legal heir to his estate, which is estimated to be worth around $300 million. His sister and five half-siblings have been confirmed as heirs, but many others have been rejected by the judge overseeing the proceedings, including people who claimed that Prince was their biological or adoptive father, and a woman who claimed to have married the singer.

The latest claims to be rejected came from the heirs of a man who Prince often referred to as his “brother”, Duane Nelson. But Duane wasn’t, in fact, Prince’s brother. Though, to be fair to these two claimants, the musician wasn’t just using the word ‘brother’ in the slang sense to mean friend. They argued that Prince’s father, John L Nelson, had treated Duane as if he was his son, creating a “family relationship”.

However, the judge, Kevin W Eide, said that under Minnesota law formal adoption must take place for an assumed child to be a legal heir. The judge ruled: “There is no case law in Minnesota or, to the court’s knowledge, anywhere in the United States that establishes for intestacy purposes where there was no genetic relationship but the parties to the relationship held themselves out to be father and son”.

Duane Nelson’s decedents are likely to appeal the ruling, while another man who claims to be the son of Prince’s non-brother has been given extra time to prove his claim that John L Nelson had intended to adopt Duane even though the formalities were never completed.

Elsewhere in Prince news, a rep for his estate says he has no knowledge of discussions with Jay-Z about Roc Nation acquiring the musician’s unreleased catalogue in a $40 million deal. TMZ says Jay-Z met with Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson to discuss the possible purchase.

Speaking for the estate, L Londell McMillan told Billboard that no formal representative of the estate has had any such discussions with Roc Nation, while stressing that any deal done around previously unreleased Prince recordings will a licensing arrangement not a sale.

It is possible, though, that Jay-Z will seek to extend the exclusivity deal his streaming service Tidal struck with Prince before his death.