What The Last Year Of Lisa Marie Presley's Life Was Like

Lisa Marie Presley once wrote (per the BBC), "I've dealt with death, grief and loss since the age of nine years old." That was her age when her father, Elvis Presley, died of a heart attack at just 42. For the rest of her life, Presley would endure setbacks, hardships, and heartbreak. Her teenage years were marked by rebellion and an admitted self-destructive streak. All of her marriages ended in divorce, with her union with Michael Jackson easy fodder for the tabloid press and a strain on her mental health. She fell into an opioid addiction following childbirth in 2008. And she lost her son, Benjamin Keough, to suicide in 2020.

That final tragedy saw Presley remove herself from the spotlight, as her obituary in The Guardian noted. Her own premature death at 54 seemed one last misfortune, yet in her final year of life, Presley did step out into the public again — for celebrations of her father and to try and tie up a few loose ends.

She had been fighting her business manager and ex-husband in court for some time

2022 saw Lisa Marie Presley winding down litigations that stretched back years. Many had been concerned with money: The estate she inherited from her father was largely overseen by Presley's business manager, Barry Siegel, for years, and Siegel was instrumental in the deal Presley made in a 2005 deal over Elvis Presley's intellectual property rights. But by 2018, according to Reuters, Presley, and Seigel had launched competing lawsuits against one another: Presley claimed that Siegel's mismanagement had cost her millions, while Seigel alleged that a spendthrift Presley had stiffed him on $800,000 worth of bills.

Presley's finances entered into her legal battles with her ex-husband, Michael Lockwood. She filed for divorce from Lockwood in 2016, according to Entertainment Tonight, and the two fought a lengthy and acrimonious custody battle for their twin daughters. The divorce itself wasn't finalized until 2020, and the fight for custody and child support continued well into 2022. The Blast, writing about disputes over legal fees from the lawsuits in November of that year, obtained court documents showing that Presley pulled in a monthly fee of over $104,000 from businesses related to her father, and another $4,361 a month for her work with Graceland. However, this was not enough to offset her debts, estimated at around $4,000,000.

She wrote about her experiences with grief

In 2020, Lisa Marie Presley's son Benjamin Keough, her youngest child by her first husband Danny Keough, died of a gunshot wound. Per the BBC, the death was ruled a suicide, and for Presley, who had been particularly close to Keough, the loss was incalculable. After his death, according to The Guardian, she vanished almost entirely from the public eye to cope with the grief.

For National Grief Awareness Day in 2022, Presley stepped out to share some of how she had dealt with the previous two years. Taking pen in hand, she wrote a short essay for People. She raised three points from her own experience: that grief is a natural emotion that endures for life, that the grieving need a support network and often can't maintain one, and that premature and tragic losses — like a parent losing a child — can leave survivors judged and ostracized. Without naming names, Presley implied that longtime friends and family hadn't been there for her since Keough's death, though she had found help through support groups and a select few old faces from her life.

Presley ended by encouraging anyone who knew someone struggling with a loss to reach out in support, noting how difficult it was to keep going. Her own motivation to do so, she said, came from her daughters.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

She was living in a rented (and spacious) house

After the death of her son, Benjamin Keough, in 2020, Lisa Marie Presley decided she no longer wanted to live in the home they had shared. Per the Express, Presley had bought a five-bedroom mansion in Calabasas, California, for $1.8 million in 2020. The neighborhood was partially built on land that was once used by Warner Bros. for filming locations, and several notable celebrities reside there to this day. But four months after Presley bought her house, it became the site of Keough's suicide.

Presley sold the house for $2 million, but she didn't go far after the sale. She moved into another mansion in the same neighborhood, a six-bedroom building in a New England style with three acres. Presley rented the house for the rest of her life — according to the Los Angeles Times, she was there when she suffered the cardiac episode that led to her death.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

She enjoyed, and helped promote, her father's biopic

Lisa Marie Presley's chief concern at the end of her life was struggling with grief from the loss of her son. But 2022 saw her come back into public view, on account of a tribute and celebration of her father. That year saw the premiere of Baz Luhrmann's elaborate musical biopic, "Elvis," and Presley took to Instagram to sing its praises. She was particularly happy with Austin Butler's portrayal of her father. "In my humble opinion," Presley wrote, "his performance is unprecedented and FINALLY done accurately and respectfully."

Presley and Butler would appear together for an interview with ABC 20/20 (via ABC News) ahead of the film's premiere. Butler and Luhrmann introduced Presley, her daughters, and her mother ahead of a ceremony wherein the women put their handprints in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater (via Instagram). And Presley participated in the film's promotional tour, where she got to know other members of the cast and their families. After her death, Tom Hanks' wife Rita Wilson shared a tribute on Instagram, recalling their time together on the tour.

She appeared at Graceland and the Golden Globes just before her death

The beginning of 2023 saw Graceland celebrating what would have been Elvis Presley's 88th birthday for four days straight. The house's official website advertised, among other events, a performance by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and a special 50th-anniversary screening of the televised concert "Aloha from Hawaii." Also on hand was Lisa Marie Presley for an early morning speech on January 8, her father's actual birthday. She told the many fans in attendance, "You're the only people who can bring me out of my house."

But Presley would step out again not long after, to support the biopic "Elvis" at the 2023 Golden Globes. She popped up behind Austin Butler as he was interviewed by Entertainment Tonight, and was interviewed herself by Billy Bush for ExtraTV. She was described as "unsteady" in Extra's title for the video, in which she held onto her friend Jerry Schilling. Presley passed away only two days later.

Was she going to testify in the Danny Masterson trial?

A potential issue for Lisa Marie Presley throughout 2022 was the trial of actor Danny Masterson for multiple counts of rape. Masterson was, and remains as of February 2023, a practicing Scientologist, and Presley had been a member of the church until 2014, according to the Irish Examiner. Prosecutors sought her testimony in Masterson's trial in relation to an incident from 2003. According to Tony Ortega of The Underground Bunker (via ABC 7), Presley was allegedly directed by the church to dissuade Masterson's victim from going to the police over the rape.

Presley was subpoenaed, but per Deadline, she indicated in private interviews ahead of the trial that she couldn't remember specifics about the incident. Her involvement — and that of the church — in possibly silencing the victim were deemed by the judge as an issue of obstruction of justice, and not relevant to the specific charges of rape against Masterson. The prosecution ultimately opted not to call her as a witness.

Could Presley have had a change of heart or mind about testifying? After a declared mistrial, the prosecution sought to build a second trial against Masterson, just two days before Presley's death. The Daily Mail ran a story and headline hinting at her possible testimony in future litigation against Masterson, but offered no details other than a summary of her history with the case.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

There were rumors about her health and drug use before her death

To the extent that Lisa Marie Presley was in the public eye in 2022, her appearance and behavior invited commentary and rumor. After her death, tabloids and gossip sites began circulating allegations about her health. The Sun drew on anonymous claims that Presley had become a recluse after her son's death, reliant on her surviving children and ex-husband Danny Keough for support. The same sources claimed that Presley's inner circle feared she would echo her father in dying prematurely.

TMZ had a rumor bundle of its own from anonymous tips. Their sources claimed that, following her son's death, Presley fell back into an opioid addiction she had fought to overcome in the past. Her behavior during the 2023 Golden Globes, where she held onto friend Jerry Schilling's arm, was pointed to as evidence. She was also alleged to have undergone plastic surgery to improve her appearance before the ceremony, a campaign said to have been aided by weight loss medication.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She allegedly had family tensions before her death

Shortly after Lisa Marie Presley's death, her mother Priscilla challenged the terms of her last will and testament, alleging possible forgery, according to Sky News. The dispute potentially set Priscilla against her granddaughter Riley Keough, whom Lisa Marie Presley had named as successor trustee of her living trust — replacing Priscilla. Various tabloids insinuated that Presley had been at odds with her mother, and other members of the family, before her death.

According to "TMZ Investigates: Lisa Marie Presley: Unending Tragedy" (via the New York Post), Presley and Priscilla had supposedly fallen out to the point where they had no relationship to speak of. Any shows of affection during a promotion related to the "Elvis" biopic, or at Presley's funeral and memorial, were for public display. Presley was also said to be estranged from one former husband, Michael Lockwood, who had a particularly acrimonious relationship with another of Presley's exes, Danny Keough.

The same documentary (via The Daily Mail) also claimed that Presley took out three life insurance policies shortly before her death, allowing her to leave an estate worth several million dollars to be divided among her three daughters. Their own future was marked by questions concerning custody and potential future contact between the wider family, and her two youngest daughters by Lockwood.