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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Memphis judge spares Graceland from auction block

A debtor claimed the former home of Elvis Presley was collateral for a $3.8 million debt that had fallen into default. Elvis' granddaughter, actress Riley Keough, got the foreclosure sale blocked amid doubts of authenticity.

(CN) — A looming foreclosure sale at Graceland, Elvis Presley’s iconic Memphis mansion, was suspended by a Shelby County Judge Wednesday, days after Presley's granddaughter Riley Keough claimed fraudulent documents had been filed to initiate the proceedings.  

Keough, a 34-year-old actress, is the eldest daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, herself the only child and sole heir of Elvis and Priscilla Presley. Lisa Marie died suddenly of cardiac arrest in 2023 at age 54.

Keough was later appointed sole heir of her mother’s estate, which included a 15% ownership stake in Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., the corporate entity which manages the ongoing Elvis business enterprise. More importantly, it gave Keough 100% controlling interest in Graceland's buildings, grounds and contents, as well as Elvis’ personal effects stored there and elsewhere. 

This month, companies registered as Naussany Investments and Private Lending claimed Lisa Marie Presley had used Graceland as collateral for a $3.8 million loan in 2015. Naussany filed a foreclosure notice with an auction date of May 23, claiming the loan had since defaulted. 

Keough filed a lawsuit May 15, claiming both entities are fraudulently incorporated and Lisa Marie never entered into a loan arrangement with either. In her complaint, Keough says “Lisa Maria Presley never borrowed money from Naussany Investments and never gave a deed of trust to Naussany Investments.” 

On Wednesday, Shelby County Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins ruled in favor of Keough, enjoining the sale amid Keough’s doubts. Jenkins cited an affidavit from Kimberly Philbrick, a notary public who swore she did not notarize Lisa Marie’ signature on the deed of trust submitted by Naussany. 

Jenkins also noted Keough's motion was aided by Graceland’s “unique” nature as a “well-loved” global tourist attraction which would suffer irrevocable harm under the terms of a foreclosure sale. 

Reportedly, representatives for the defendants did not appear in court, but have subsequently issued statements they are temporarily abandoning the effort while exploring other legal options. 

Elvis lived as lavishly as any rock ‘n’ roll star in his day or since, spending more of his wealth than he accumulated. When he died in 1977 at age 42, the estate was worth about $5 million.

But as his legacy grew and his songs, movies and merchandise continued to be licensed, the value of the estate grew, although it also reportedly fluctuated widely under Lisa Marie’s management. She surrendered control of 85% of the estate in 2005, but retained control of Graceland which had opened as a museum in 1982 and by some estimates earns about $10 million in revenue annually.  

According to a statement given to The Associated Press, Elvis Presley Enterprises said the ruling means “Graceland will continue to operate as it has for the past 42 years, ensuring that Elvis fans from around the world can continue to have the best in class experience when visiting his iconic home.

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Categories / Business, Courts, Entertainment

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