• 212-827-4501
May 22, 2024 kHyal

Graceland foreclosure sale halted as Presley estate’s lawsuit moves forward

Coffey Modica partner Paul Golden provided expert insight on the halted Graceland foreclosure sale in a recent article from The Associated Press.

(The article has been syndicated across the AP network, appearing in CT Insider, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Yahoo News, among others.)

BY  ADRIAN SAINZ, May 22, 2024

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A judge on Wednesday said Elvis Presley’s estate could be successful in arguing that a company’s attempt to auction Graceland is fraudulent as he halted a foreclosure sale of the beloved Memphis tourist attraction.

Later Wednesday, a statement from someone who appeared to be a representative of the company said it would drop its claim, which the Presley estate has argued is based on fake documents. Online court records did not immediately show any legal filings suggesting the claim had been dropped.

Shelby County Chancellor JoeDae Jenkins issued a temporary injunction against the proposed auction that had been scheduled for Thursday in Memphis, where the king of rock ‘n’ roll’s former home is located. Jenkins’ injunction essentially keeps in place a previous restraining order issued at the request of Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough.

“Graceland is a part of this community, well-loved by this community and indeed around the world,” the judge said.

A public notice for a foreclosure sale of the 13-acre estate posted earlier in May said Promenade Trust, which controls the Graceland museum, owes $3.8 million after failing to repay a 2018 loan. Keough, an actor, inherited the trust and ownership of the home after the death of her mother, Lisa Marie Presley, last year.

Naussany Investments and Private Lending said Lisa Marie Presley had used Graceland as collateral for the loan, according to the foreclosure sale notice. A lawsuit filed last week by Keough alleged that Naussany presented fraudulent documents regarding the loan in September 2023.

“Lisa Maria Presley never borrowed money from Naussany Investments and never gave a deed of trust to Naussany Investments,” Keough’s lawyer wrote in a lawsuit.

Neither Keough nor lawyers for Naussany Investments were in court Wednesday. Keough’s attorney, Jeff Germany, said outside of court that he has not had direct contact with representatives from Naussany.

Naussany did file an unsuccessful motion asking the judge to deny the estate’s request for an injunction.

A statement emailed to The Associated Press after Wednesday’s ruling said Naussany would not proceed because a key document in the case and the loan were recorded and obtained in a different state, meaning that “legal action would have to be filed in multiple states.” The statement, which was sent from an email address listed in court documents, did not specify the other state.

“The company will be withdrawing all claims with prejudice,” the statement said.

Kimberly Philbrick, the notary whose name is listed on Naussany’s documents, indicated that she never met Lisa Marie Presley nor notarized any documents for her, according to the estate’s lawsuit. The judge said the notary’s affidavit included in the lawsuit brings into question “the authenticity of the signature.”

Paul Golden, a lawyer for New York-based Coffey Modica who handles real estate litigation but is not directly involved in the case, said that affidavit and other inconsistencies in the company’s paperwork appeared to be “extremely strong evidence” to support the Presley estate’s position.

Graceland opened as a museum and tourist attraction in 1982 as a tribute to Elvis Presley, the singer and actor who died in August 1977 at age 42. It draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. A large Presley-themed entertainment complex across the street from the museum is owned by Elvis Presley Enterprises.

“Graceland will continue to operate as it has for the past 42 years, ensuring that Elvis fans from around the world can continue to have the best in class experience when visiting his iconic home,” Elvis Presley Enterprises said in a statement.