Here's Who Inherited Prince's Massive Fortune After He Died

In a year that seemed to play host to the tragic deaths of an unusual number of major celebrities, the loss of pop genius Prince in 2016 came to many as a shock. Prince died of an overdose of the drug fentanyl, aged 57, and left behind an enormous personal fortune and a body of work worth millions of dollars. According to Fox Business, though, Prince had no will, and that put control of his fortune — and his music — on the line. That set the stage for what the Star Tribune later described as one of the most complicated and expensive probate cases ever in Prince's home state of Minnesota. That case is now settled and as court documents reveal, we finally know how the "Purple Rain" singer's money will be divided, according to CNN

With no will to reveal who would inherit his fortune, and with the late singer unmarried and childless at the time of his death — his only son, Amiir, tragically died in infancy in 1996 — a major legal battle reportedly ensued, with numerous figures staking their claim for what the IRS estimated to be a $163.2 million fortune, according to Forbes. As the Star Tribune notes, the musician's estate, carved up between his six siblings and half-siblings, was managed by the Comerica Bank & Trust. In 2021, three of Prince's inheritors sold their stakes to Primary Wave, a New York music publishing company that from then on controlled half of the estate, according to Fox Business.

Heirs and acquisitions

Since his death, several albums of new material have been released from the star's extensive private archive at his Paisley Park complex, which is believed to contain more than 8,000 songs, so those that retain the rights to Prince's music could enjoy healthy profit from unreleased material for years to come (via Forbes). Primary Wave, whom the Star Tribune describes as an "aggressive" and "well-funded" organization that controls the catalogs of a number of musicians such as Ray Charles and Stevie Nicks, made an offer to Prince's other siblings but they reportedly held on to their assets, claiming: "We'll never sell out. We know the prize." 

As well as the acquisition of the rights to Prince's catalog, another ongoing legal wrangle concerned the valuation of Prince's estate in total, including property such as his 65,000-square-foot Paisley Park complex. As the Star Tribune notes, the IRS's valuation of $163.2 million captured headlines. The administrators of Prince's estate, the Comerica Bank & Trust, originally valued it at $82.3 million, though, at almost half of the IRS estimate. Per the same source, the IRS was so incensed by the low valuation that they hit the administrator with an "accuracy-related penalty" of $6.4 million. In response, Comerica sued the IRS and claimed the government agency made numerous miscalculations in its assessment.

The final settlement of Prince's estate

After reaching that agreement, the two parties involved first attempted to settle the valuation of Prince's estate before they attempted to evaluate the value of the Prince music catalog. Eventually, both parties reached an agreement that the estate was in fact worth $156.4 million, with the IRS agreeing to drop their penalty against Comerica. The Midwestern-based bank called the settlement "fair and reasonable." Per CNN, that $156.4 million will be divided between Prince Legacy LLC, made up of three Prince half-siblings, and Prince OAT Holdings LLC, owned by Primary Wave, with a number of interests represented. 

As for Comerica Bank & Trust, they'll be paid $3 million to cover the cost of closing the Prince estate, according to CNN. Before he died, Prince seemed to be at a creative peak. He formed a new backing band, 3rdeyegirl, and continued to record and perform well-received music, as American Music Review explains. During the last year of his life, the Minnesota musician was also highly visible due to political activism and his involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement. Prince was also privately dealing with drug addiction, though, and specifically opioid painkillers that Prince initially used to combat chronic hip pain, according to Rolling Stone.