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Prince Heirs Request Administrator's Removal After It Trucks Away Vault Recordings

Oct 31, 2017

Attorneys for three of Prince's six recognized heirs — Sharon, Norrine and John Nelson — have requested that Comerica Bank & Trust, which accepted its appointment as personal administrator to the legendary musician's estate on Dec. 7, 2016 and began performing that role in early February of this year, be stripped of its oversight.

In late September, Comerica moved at least some of the contents of Prince's famed vault of unreleased material from his Paisley Park home and studio in Minnesota to California. Sharon Nelson told the Associated Press at the time that it was as though Prince had "passed away again." Comerica responded to the AP that it had notified the heirs on "four separate occasions" it would be moving the contents of Prince's recording archives, and that the move was a "safeguard against the destruction or loss of any original content."

In documents filed last Friday, Oct. 27, attorneys for the three heirs cite Comerica's "unilateral decision" to remove recordings from Prince's famed vault as reason for its dismissal. Their lawyers argue the transfer was in violation of an agreement from March governing Comerica's administration; in particular, they cite a provision requiring the heirs receive 14 days notice before Comerica enters into any agreement potentially worth over $2 million, arguing the archive's value to be above $2 million, at minimum."Paisley Park is the best location for this material," the heirs' attorneys wrote.

They also say moving the vault is the "tip of the iceberg" as to Comerica's mishandling of the estate's affairs, writing that it has "spent millions of dollars and authorized excessive amounts on consulting and legal fees, notably to Troy Carter" — the Spotify executive whom Comerica appointed as an advisor in April. In a follow-up letter, the heirs' representatives write that Comerica should be allowed to proceed with previously agreed-upon real estate sales.

Comerica is paid $125,000 per month, plus expenses such as travel — which totaled $6,169.04 for September — for its handling of the estate.

In a response filed the same day as the heirs' request for its removal, Comerica's attorneys wrote that the suspension "would cause substantial harm" to the Prince estate, in part by "jeopardizing at least five major entertainment deals currently being negotiated," among other still-in-motion agreements like the previously approved sale of some of Prince's real estate.

In a follow-up statement provided to NPR, Comerica writes that it is "disappointed that certain heirs of the Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson have chosen to file an inaccurate and inflammatory petition seeking Comerica's removal," and that the company "stands behind its team and their administration of the estate."

According to Mark Greiner, one of the attorneys representing the Prince heirs, a conference call scheduled tomorrow between the parties is expected to yield a hearing date on the petition for Comerica's removal.

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