MINNEAPOLIS -- The death of Prince's brother Alfred Jackson, along with his contested will, are raising new questions in the endlessly complicated efforts to settle the legendary musician's estate, including whether a California man with a reputation for cozying up to celebrities will end up with one-sixth of Prince's riches.
Jackson, one of six sibling heirs to a fortune worth at least $100 million, sold 90% of his Prince estate rights last year to Primary Wave, a well-funded and growing entertainment company that invests in music publishing and recording rights. Prince's sister Tyka Nelson also cut a deal with Primary Wave, getting cash up front as the estate proceedings drag on.
As a result, close to one-third of Prince's assets could end up controlled by parties not related to him, further complicating the difficult task of settling Prince's estate.
Within hours of signing with Primary Wave in August, Jackson, 66, died of heart disease at his home in suburban Kansas City, Mo. Unlike Prince, he had signed a will. He did not have a wife or children and, in another twist, instead of leaving his estate to his siblings, he bequeathed his assets to a friend, Raffles Van Exel.
Van Exel bills himself as an entertainment consultant, but he is best known for hanging out with Whitney Houston, particularly in her last days, and Michael Jackson's family. He also was a creative force behind O.J. Simpson's notorious "If I Did It" book project, federal court records show.
The Alfred Jackson situation "seems oddly and shockingly coincidental," said L. Londell McMillan, business adviser and entertainment attorney for Sharon, Norrine and John Nelson, three other Prince heirs.
"It breaks my heart that (Alfred) made a deal that he didn't even live a full day to enjoy," said McMillan, who worked with Prince for several years. "And now a third party is claiming rights to it. That's something I find troubling."
Primary Wave's deal with Jackson is being questioned by his own family, at least his siblings who aren't related to Prince. Their biggest goal: contesting Jackson's will.
Prince's death of a fentanyl overdose on April 21, 2016 -- without a will -- created one of the largest and most complicated probate court proceedings in Minnesota history. The value of the rock star's estate is still being hashed out in Carver County probate court, waiting for a determination from the IRS that's expected this summer.
"Prince has an (estimated) $100 million to $300 million estate, but it's not dollars in a bank account but in (potential) royalties on his music, and that's much more difficult to value," said Dennis Patrick, a Minneapolis attorney who wrote about Prince's estate in the Mitchell Hamline Law Review.