Almost exactly one year after the death of Prince, two of his siblings have returned to court claiming the trust in charge of a tribute concert breached its fiduciary commitment when it asked an obscure concert promoter to organize, with undisclosed ties to the trust, and promote a benefit concert to honor the pop star. According to the Wall Street Journal, the trust failed to disclose it had secretly loaned the promoter money and had a financial interest in a concert that took place in October at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn. The sold-out show lasted four-and-a-half hours, and included performances from Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Jessie J and Tori Kelly.
As a result, in January, two of Prince’s heirs (sister Tyka Nelson and half-brother Omarr Baker) filed a lawsuit seeking $7 million for mismanaging profits from the October concert. Last week, a new development brought the latest chapter of intrigue in the case — Prince’s family members introduced a secretly-taped recording into court that showed executives with Bremer Trust, which had been appointed as the temporary administrator of the musician’s estate, had secretly loaned Jobu Presents $2 million to secure the rights for the concert, according to the WSJ. Those two executives — L. Londell McMillan and Charles Koppelman — allegedly steered the contract to the Jobu Presents, a company that had only been formed a few months prior.
Prince’s family members have brought forth a recording of a conversation between Koppelman and Jobu Chief Executive Vaughn Millette with the two discussing the loan. The recording, that Millette taped, was filed under seal in probate court by Baker and Jackson, and reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. On the tape, Millette alleges that Kopppelman forced him into taking the $2 million loan to pay the estate, according to the WSJ.
The new filing states, “Now it has become clear that the agreement with Jobu Presents was tainted by an undisclosed conflict of interest.”
The recording also suggests that Bremer Trust, a Minneapolis-area bank, breached fiduciary duty since it was aware of the Koppelman’s loan and failed to disclose the agreement..
On the recording, a voice attributed to Koppelman reportedly said he wanted his money back from Millette and asserted “you stole $2 million from me.” Koppelman goes on to threaten Millette’s reputation and finances.
WSJ reports that Koppelman said, “I loaned you the money in good faith, and you paid me by just being a total dick.” He adds, “So now that I don’t care about anything other than getting our money back, it’s going to cost you anything and everything that you have: Your reputation, any money you have, any money your family has. I’m just going to go get it now.”
Prince’s heirs have urged the court not to release Bremer from liability until they can ascertain whether or not the trust violated its fiduciary duty, even though Comerica Bank & Trust took over administrator duties for the estate in January.
Jobu backed out of the agreement on Aug. 24, just months prior to the show and demanded its money back plus damages, which Bremer returned by September. But, according to certain siblings, Jobu still paid McMillan a commission that Bremer never attempted to recoup. Koppelman was also reportedly owed a 10 percent commission on advance payment for the event. In addition, some of Prince’s heirs alleged that the concert didn’t make as much money as it could have because of a decision to use Jobu over other promoters such as Live Nation. McMillan went on to organize the show himself, earning a $116,500 commission.
Bremer is also currently facing suspicion of mismanagement over the fact that they signed a $30 million licensing deal with Universal Music Group. The deal may be void due to concerns that those recordings may already be licensed to a competitor.
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