Part of that entanglement involved Tommie Rae Hynie, a singer who Brown married in 2001, but later learned he was already married to another man. Even with her unclear status as a spouse, Ms Hynie, along with five of Brown’s children, tried after Brown’s death to set aside her will and negotiate a settlement to give herself significant shares in the estate.
They found a sympathetic attorney general in Mr McMaster and a state judge who approved their deal in 2009 – until the South Carolina Supreme Court overturned their settlement four years later, calling it of “dismemberment of Brown’s carefully crafted estate plan.” (In 2020, that court unanimously ruled that Ms Hynie was not Brown’s wife.)
For more than a decade, Brown’s heirs and estate administrators, including Mr Bauknight and Adele Pope, a former executor, have fought in court over the value of his estate. Mr Bauknight estimated it at around $ 5 million, but Ms Pope, who was fired in 2009, estimated it at $ 84 million. When asked if the recent sale had not supported Ms Pope’s valuation, Mr Bauknight defended it as being correct at the time of Brown’s death. He added that the estate has grown in value over the years and cited the efforts of industry professionals he hired to advise him.
The deal with Primary Wave has been in the works for almost four years, and Mr Bauknight said he has 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 education trusts – one for Brown’s grandchildren, limited to around $ 2 million, and the another for needy children in South Carolina and Georgia, which was to receive the bulk of Brown’s estate – and the estate was not a part of Brown’s “termination rights”, nor of the copyrights recovered.
To negotiate the acquisition of Brown’s estate, Mr. Mestel hired one of the legal heavyweights in music, John Branca, who was Michael Jackson’s longtime lawyer and one of the executors of the estate. Jackson’s estate.
“It was complicated,” Branca said of the deal, “because James Brown was complicated.”
The Primary Wave transaction leaves a long-standing legal dispute between Mr Bauknight and Ms Pope, who accuse each other of trying to profit from the estate, unfinished.