Part of that entanglement involved Tommie Rae Hynie, a singer whom Brown married in 2001 but later learned he was already married to another man. Although her status as a wife was unclear, Ms Hynie, along with five of Brown’s children, tried after Brown’s death to void her will and negotiate a settlement to give herself large shares of the estate. .
They found a sympathetic attorney general in Mr. McMaster and a state judge who approved their settlement in 2009 – until the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down their settlement four years later, calling it a “dismemberment of Brown’s carefully crafted estate plan”. (In 2020, this court ruled unanimously that Mrs. Hynie was not Brown’s wife.)
For more than a decade, heirs and administrators of Brown’s estate, including Mr Bauknight and Adele Pope, a former executor, fought in court over the value of his estate. Mr Bauknight put it at around $5million, but Ms Pope, who was removed from the job in 2009, put it at $84million. Asked if the recent sale had supported Ms Pope’s valuation, Mr Bauknight defended it as accurate at the time of Brown’s death. He added that the value of the domain had increased over the years and he cited the efforts of industry professionals he had hired to advise him.
The deal with Primary Wave has been in the works for almost four years and Mr Bauknight said he had discussions with “a number of players”. The terms of the settlement are confidential, but Mr. Bauknight said the only beneficiaries of the estate are two educational trusts – one for Brown’s grandchildren, limited to around $2million, and the another for needy children in South Carolina and Georgia, who was to receive the bulk of Brown’s estate – and the estate is not a party to Brown’s “termination rights” or reclaimed song copyrights .
To negotiate the acquisition of Brown’s estate, Mr Mestel brought in one of music’s legal heavyweights, John Branca, who was Michael Jackson’s longtime attorney and one of the executors. of Jackson’s estate.
“It was complicated,” Mr. Branca said of the deal, “because James Brown was complicated.”
The Primary Wave transaction leaves open a long-running legal battle between Mr Bauknight and Ms Pope, who have each accused the other of trying to cash in on the estate.