Fifteen years after his death, James Brown's estate has been sold. The Godfather of Soul died on Christmas Day in 2006. His death brought on a long and drawn-out battle between his family and his alleged wife. Per The New York Times, Brown was married to Tomie Lee Hynie, whom he wed in 2001. It was later revealed that Hynie was already legally married. Hynie and Brown's five children tried to negotiate a settlement rewarding them with "significant shares" of the estate, ignoring a will in place that James requested that his money goes toward a scholarship for underprivileged children.
Now, Primary Music is the owner of Brown's $90 million estate. The company purchased the assets of Brown's estate which includes his music rights, real estate, and control over his name and likeness. Russell L. Bauknight, who has been the estate's executor since 2009, says the money will endow Brown's scholarship trust in perpetuity. Bauknight will continue to work with Primary Wave as a board member, allowing him to manage some of Brown's assets.
The scholarships for underprivileged children will be divided up between South Carolina and Georgia. Brown was born and raised in those two states. The full terms of the settlement are confidential. But Bauknight says that only Brown's grandchildren and the scholarship trust are the beneficiaries of the estate. The grandchildren will receive an estimated $2 million from the estate, and the trust will receive the bulk of what remains. Bauknight believes the first scholarships will be awarded by the end of 2022.
Larry Mestel, the founder of Primary Wave, is familiar with the estates of celebrities who have passed away. He created a similar deal for half of Whitney Houston's estate. He also has parts in Prince's estate. Mestel is said to be working on Godfather of Soul's legacy in an effort to present his music to a new generation of fans. He has plans for a Broadway musical, television shows, and the creation of an Elvis Presley Graceland-like museum attraction at Brown's mansion in South Carolina.