SFX Entertainment founder Robert F.X. Sillerman is acquiring majority ownership in the assets of Elvis Presley's estate, officials of Elvis Presley Enterprises announced Thursday (Dec. 16).
The new partnership will conduct all business activities involving Elvis Presley Enterprises, Graceland and tour operations. However, the singer's sole heir, daughter Lisa Marie Presley, will retain most of her father's personal effects and title to Graceland and its 13-acre grounds in Memphis. The new partnership includes all trademark rights to the name, likeness and image of Elvis Presley and all EPE-owned intellectual property, including its lucrative music publishing catalog.
The estate generates annual revenues of approximately $40 million to rank Presley at No. 1 on Forbes magazine's annual list of top-earning dead celebrities. Lisa Marie's mother, Priscilla Presley, established EPE in 1980 on behalf of the Elvis Presley estate. Elvis Presley died in 1977.
"For the past few years I've been looking for someone to join forces with to expand the many facets of EPE, to take it to new levels internationally and to make it an even greater force in the entertainment industry," Lisa Marie Presley said in a written statement. "I feel confident that Bob Sillerman and his team are the right people to do this with.
"My greatest responsibility to my father is to preserve and protect his legacy, and this is an exciting new structure that opens up an incredible array of opportunities with a major infusion of new investment capital to do just that. It's the ideal partnership in that I retain Graceland and my father's personal effects, yet joining forces with Bob Sillerman will give us the opportunity to grow even further the intellectual and entertainment properties."
Sillerman was a major shareholder and executive chairman of SFX Entertainment from its creation in 1997 until its sale to Clear Channel Communications in August 2000. SFX Entertainment produced live events throughout the world. Prior to that, Sillerman was a founder and executive chairman of SFX Broadcasting, a company that owned and operated a chain of radio stations, from its inception in 1992 until its sale in 1998.
Sillerman is creating a new company, CKX, Inc., oversee the Presley venture. Priscilla Presley, the former wife of the Country Music and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, will continue to serve as executive consultant to EPE.
Late Thursday, Lisa Marie Presley issued another written statement aimed at fans to "further clarify and ease any worried minds."
"The search for the right person has been going on for years," she said. "None of us at EPE would have done this if it weren't in the best interest of my father and his legacy. No stone was left unturned in making sure that business will be run as it historically has been, with integrity, always preserving and protecting my father.
"The executives, my mother and myself remain very active in the operations of Graceland and its entities. What is and has been done will remain, and merging with Bob Sillerman and his team simply gives us new opportunities that we didn't have before.
"Business-wise, any company can always grow. What is predominately sacred and can never be touched is Graceland itself and its contents and artifacts. And that is and remains mine and my family's forever."