Both men - CNN contributor and onetime White House adviser
Van Jones, and a show business attorney already hired as an
estate consultant, L. Londell McMillan - boasted long-standing
ties to Prince as they testified in Minnesota probate court.
Their different backgrounds and priorities hold profound
implications for the control and commercial exploitation of
musical assets left by Prince when he died unexpectedly last
April at age 57.
Some experts have estimated those assets are worth hundreds of
millions of dollars, and the two men seeking appointment as
personal representative to the heirs contrasted sharply in their
respective pitches to Carver County Judge Kevin Eide.
Jones stressed his collaboration in Prince's various
philanthropic endeavors. "They talk about him being a musical
genius, but he had a genius for human beings, for humanity,"
Jones said, adding: "It's not for me about the money."
McMillan emphasized his business acumen and depth of experience
in handling the financial interests of numerous recording stars,
including Prince, as chairman and chief executive of NorthStar
"Half the people at the (Prince) tribute were my personal
clients," he said.
McMillan recounted launching his own firm with a check he
received for his help getting Prince out of a contract with
Warner Bros in the 1990s, ending a dispute that had led the
artist to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol and
scrawl the word "slave" on his face for live performances.
The considerable fortune left by the musician, born Prince
Rogers Nelson, is in the process of being appraised.
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The sum would include the value of licensing fees, royalties and
future retail sales generated by music from more than 30 albums he
released during his career, plus an extensive cache of unheard
recordings said to be locked away in a vault.
Under Minnesota law, those assets are expected to pass equally to
Prince's younger sister, Tyka Nelson, and five surviving
half-siblings, since he apparently left behind no will when he
suffered a fatal prescription drug overdose at his Paisley Park home
and studio in Minnesota.
Eide said he would not be ready to formally grant the six siblings
their inheritance until court appeals from various would-be heirs
whose claims the judge rejected last year had run their course.
The siblings are divided over who should be named to serve as their
personal envoy to the estate.
Jones has the support of Tyka Nelson and one of her half-brothers,
Omar Baker. Two other half-brothers and two half-sisters back
McMillan, including Sharon Nelson, who said of her faction: "We have
McMillan may also have an edge as he played a role in a deal the
estate reached in November by which Prince's song catalog will be
administered through Universal Music Publishing Group.
(Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles;
Editing by Peter Cooney)
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