Here is part of an interview Lisa Marie did with Rolling Stone magazine on the Estate Sale. Lisa Marie Presley says she didn’t “go nuts”.
Doing the best thing
When Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie sold eighty-five percent of the multi-million Elvis Presley Estates last month to Robert F.X. Sillerman, the billionaire investor announced his intention to "take risks on bigger opportunities" with the King's name and image.
Speaking exclusively with Rolling Stone, Presley confesses that the decision to sell was not easy, and expresses confidence in the direction in which Sillerman will take the Elvis brand. "It's not like I just went nuts and sold it," says Lisa Marie, who in reality spent years searching for the right buyer. "I don't know if people have this misconception that we're going to build a giant casino on the lawn of Graceland, or that Elvis condoms are going to be mass-distributed throughout the world, but that's not going to happen."
Sillerman, who will manage the estate through his company CFX, declined to offer specific marketing plans, but he says people shouldn't expect Elvis to start appearing in TV commercials, or that the market will be flooded with T-shirts and mini-Graceland models. "Less is more," he says. "I think overexposure diminishes the value of Elvis." He does, however, see big money in Elvis' future -- he may invest in projects such as Elvis-themed entertainment in Las Vegas or in Japan and Europe, where the King's allure is huge. More than half of the 10 million-plus sales of the 2002 release 30 #1 Hits came from outside America.
Lisa Marie retains fifteen percent of the estate, as well as the deed to Graceland and all of Elvis' personal belongings. She also has veto power over any unorthodox new venture. "He cannot do anything that hasn't been historically done," Presley says of Sillerman. "That's the thing we still wanted control of, and that was a big part of our process: 'Is this person going to do something crazy that we have no control over"' No stone was left unturned in making sure that that wasn't the case. That's why it took a long time to find the right person."
Sillerman bought the bulk of the estate for cash, stocks and debt forgiveness totaling $100 million, including fifty percent of Elvis' publishing rights (the singer sold the majority of his master rights back to RCA in 1973). The mogul -- who sold his massive concert-promotion business, SFX Entertainment, to radio conglomerate Clear Channel in 2001 for more than $4 billion -- plans to form partnerships with a variety of artists through CFX.
Elvis, who would have turned seventy on January 8th, has topped Forbes' list of top dead-celebrity incomes for the past four years; in 2003 the King made a profit of $12 million on nearly $45 million in revenues, mostly generated from merchandising and Graceland tourism. In December, a fan in North Carolina used eBay to sell some water from a Styrofoam cup that Elvis supposedly drank from -- for $455. (He recently sold an appearance by the cup itself. Winning bid: $305.)
Though some fans on Elvis Web sites have expressed outrage over the estate's sale, Lisa Marie says her father would be pleased.
"Would he have wanted me to do the best thing for the future, for expanding the estate, for protecting his family?" she asks. "The answer would have been 'Hell, yes.'"