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A Ransom on the King’s Rides, Elvis Group Says

LAS VEGAS (CN) - A Las Vegas casino is holding hostage Elvis Presley's Harley-Davidson, his Stutz Blackhawk and high school yearbooks, Elvis Presley Enterprises claims in court, and it wants them returned to Graceland despite the casino's landlord-tenant dispute with a third party.

Elvis Presley Enterprises owns or is the long-term leaseholder of more than 1.5 million items once owned by Elvis, including cars, motorcycles, clothing, weapons, awards, photos and furniture, it says in its March 7 lawsuit against the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. Elvis Enterprises says it has nothing to do with the casino's landlord-tenant dispute and it wants the stuff returned to Memphis.

The artifacts were part of an Elvis exhibition at the casino, and Elvis Enterprises says it "has no confidence in Westgate's ability to secure its property."

Items at issue include Elvis' high school yearbooks, his first gold album, a 1957 Harley-Davidson, a 1962 Lincoln Continental, a 1971 Stutz Blackhawk, jewelry and several outfits he wore while performing.

Elvis Enterprises says it agreed in April last year to loan several items for the exhibition produced by nonparty Exhibit A Circle. Westgate has no legal right to the items, but its staff "forcibly removed all employees, who were charged with protecting artifacts, from the Westgate and seized Elvis Presley Enterprises' property," the complaint states.

"Westgate cut off access to the video feed to the security cameras that were installed to ensure the authenticity and safety of the artifacts," Elvis Enterprises says. "By shutting off this video, Westgate prevented anyone from seeing what Westgate did with Elvis Presley Enterprises' artifacts.

"Without the video, Elvis Presley Enterprises cannot confirm whether the artifacts were damaged, switched out, or otherwise misused."

It claims Westgate "jeopardized the provenance of the artifacts and subjected them to improper handling by individuals who have no archival experience," jeopardizing their value.

The Westgate opened as the International Hotel in 1969, where Elvis began a multi-year residency that shattered Las Vegas attendance records during his seven-year run.

Elvis Enterprises says a landlord-tenant dispute between Westgate and Exhibit A Circle flared shortly after the exhibit opened, and Westgate seized the items and refuses to release them until Exhibit A Circle pays a lien the casino placed against the business.

The casino "has no legitimate basis" for imposing a lien on items owned by Elvis Presley Enterprises, which has no contractual or other relationship with Westgate, Elvis Enterprises says.

Elvis Enterprises asks the court to order Westgate to deliver its property immediately after a show-cause hearing, issue a temporary restraining order to protect the artifacts, plus compensatory and punitive damages for conversion.

Westgate Resorts media contact and COO Mark Waltrip could not be reached Tuesday night at the phone number provided online by Westgate Resorts

Elvis Enterprises is represented by Kurt Bonds with Alverson, Taylor, Mortensen & Sanders, who could not be reached for comment after hours Tuesday night.

The defendant in Clark County Court is NAV-LVH, LLC dba Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.

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