Lisa Marie Presley is the heir to Elvis Presley’s estate. But she doesn’t own the royalty rights to his prolific catalogue of music.
The Express recently examined how Elvis’s manager signed a bad deal with record company RCA that left Lisa Marie out in the cold.
The manager, Colonel Tom Parker, directed Elvis’s career for 20 years, reaping a 50% commission at some points. In 1973, he and Elvis pitched a deal to RCA: Elvis would get a lump payment in exchange for all future royalties on his recordings up until then.
Rolling Stone reports that the deal was motivated by Elvis’s spending habits and Parker’s gambling debts. The payment was reportedly $5.4 million.
The deal occurred amid a string of spotty performances and erratic outbursts. By some accounts, Elvis was desperately in need of cash.
The fate of Elvis’s estate is another story of financial mismanagement. When Lisa Marie turned 25, she inherited his estate. She formed a trust, then made her business manager, Barry Siegel, the co-trustee.
Unfortunately for Lisa Marie, Siegel made another bad deal. According to The Things, he traded 85% of the trust’s interests in Elvis Presley Enterprises for $40 million after taxes, plus $25 million of stock in American Idol. By the time Lisa Marie fired Siegel in 2015, the trust had only $14,000 left. A lawsuit is still working its way through the courts.
Elvis Presley Enterprises owns the royalties on recordings made after 1973 – still a respectable amount. Still, one silver lining for Lisa Marie: The Presley estate co-owns the copyrights for some songs Elvis covered.