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Soundgarden sued over valuation of Chris Cornell’s share in the band

By | Published on Thursday 18 February 2021


Chris Cornell’s widow Vicky has launched a new lawsuit against his former Soundgarden bandmates. She wants a judge to decide the value of Cornell’s share in the band, after the surviving members offered to buy her out of the Soundgarden business for “the villainously low figure of less than $300,000”.

In the lawsuit filed in Seattle earlier this week, Vicky Cornell says that the band offered to buy her late husband’s interest in the band for $278,000. This despite them being offered $16 million by an unnamed party for just their master recording rights.

Part of the reason for the lawsuit, she says, is that the band have denied her access to financial documents that would allow her to properly value Chris Cornell’s stake. After the band made their offer for the share she now controls, she says she offered the other members $12 million for their shares. When this was declined, she says she upped her offer to $21 million, adding that it could increase further if she was provided access to the documents she wants to see.

In a statement, the band say: “As requested by the estate of Chris Cornell and as required by the laws of the state of Washington, the surviving members of Soundgarden submitted to the Cornell estate four months ago a buyout offer of the estate’s interests in Soundgarden calculated by respected music industry valuation expert Gary Cohen”.

“Since then”, they go on, “the band members have continued to try to settle all disputes with the Cornell estate and in their several attempts to settle, the band members have elected to offer multiple times more than the amount calculated by Cohen. This dispute has never been about money for the band. This is their life’s work and their legacy”.

However, Vicky Cornell’s attorney Marty Singer counters: “The band’s contention that this dispute is somehow not about the money for them is absurd and hypocritical. Of course this is about money and their greed”.

“They received a third party offer to buy just a portion of their interests for $16 million, and yet subsequently offered to buy out Chris’ interest for a mere $278,000”, he adds.

“And then Vicky offered $21 million for their shares, which they turned down”, he concludes. “Not because they wanted to preserve their life’s work, but because they know that they will make even more off of future exploitation of the music that Chris wrote and the legacy that he created – which has lined their pockets for years”.

Chris Cornell died in 2017, taking his own life after a Soundgarden show in Detroit. This is not the first lawsuit between Vicky Cornell and the band’s other members since then.

In December 2019, she sued over allegations that the band were withholding royalties and making false statements in a bid to get her to hand over a number of demo recordings made by her husband prior to his death.

That dispute is also still ongoing, and in August last year the band successfully had the case moved from Florida to Washington – on the grounds that Cornell worked on the recordings in Seattle, so it was more appropriate for the case to be heard there.