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VOL. 128 | NO. 226 | Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Elvis’ Intellectual Property Rights Sold

By Bill Dries

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Authentic Brands Group, a New York City intellectual property corporation, has bought Elvis Presley’s intellectual property and the right to operate Graceland from CORE Media Group, becoming the latest of four companies to own a majority share in the intellectual property assets of the late Memphis entertainer.

Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, continues to own Graceland and the artifacts of her father’s life. Authentic Brands will work with the licensing and merchandising rights, which comes with a library of images, artworks, movie posters, recordings of Presley’s music and his television appearances.

As part of the transaction, Joel Weinshanker, the chairman and founder of the National Entertainment Collectibles Association, will be involved specifically in the management of Graceland, Presley’s home in Whitehaven.

No one involved in the Tuesday, Nov. 19, announcement detailed the purchase price.

Authentic Brands emerged as a possible buyer earlier this month. The company’s brands include that of actress Marilyn Monroe, Juicy Couture and Hickey Freeman.

The Financial Times reported in May that CORE Media has hired a firm to handle the possible sale of its 85 percent interest in Elvis Presley Enterprises. Neither CORE nor Graceland ever responded to the report.

CORE Media is an asset management and equity firm that once was known as Apollo Global Management. Apollo bought CKX Inc., the media company headed by Robert Sillerman, in 2011.

By then, Sillerman had exited CKX, and his plans for preserving Graceland by a dramatic expansion of the Elvis footprint around the property – including several hotels and related businesses – into a resort area were stalled in the global recession.

CKX, which included the “American Idol” television shows, bought a majority share of Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2005, and shortly after that, unveiled plans for the Whitehaven expansion estimated as a $250 million project.

Elvis Presley Enterprises also began buying up property, including several apartment complexes surrounding Graceland, in anticipation of the expansion.

Sillerman’s marketing of Presley on a broader scale worldwide had met with some success, including Las Vegas shows and repackaging of Presley’s recorded material.

CORE, which had separated from the American Idol brand in its transition from CKX, also had plans for expanding the Elvis brand, including the creation of a digital hologram of Elvis that CORE announced it was developing with the company that had produced a hologram of the late rapper Tupac Shakur.

Meanwhile, the live band of musicians who played with Presley during his lifetime expanded their tour featuring recorded video images of Presley taken from earlier in his career, before his iconic television appearances in the 1970s.

Even as CORE looked for buyers, Elvis Presley Enterprises and Sony Music Entertainment were reconfiguring releases of Presley’s music into several box sets, including one that combined his recordings at Stax Records in the 1970s into an “Elvis at Stax” collection. The box set was a recasting of recordings that RCA, Presley’s record label during his lifetime, had spread across several record releases with no marketing of the connection of the city’s two signature musical movements.

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