Mo Money Mo Problems
The Freeloaders Fighting for Prince’s Loot
All sorts of colorful characters are coming out of the woodwork—and calling from prison—to claim a piece of Prince’s estate.
From kook to kin, they’re coming for Prince’s Versailles.
“I live in Georgia, I’m a minister and a medium and I’m the wife of Prince Rogers Nelson,” spouts one woman on a phone call.
One guy even evoked Darth Vader: “Right after Prince landed his plane, he shook hands with me and told me ‘I am your father.’”
The flurry of freeloaders have been flooding the phone lines of Heir Hunters International, a firm tracking down and finding long-lost and missing beneficiaries of Prince’s estate.
The agency’s founders, John Hilbert and Shar Mansukhani, told The Daily Beast they’ve received hundreds of calls from jailbirds, cons and alleged “love children.”
While they’re checking every opportunist or convict’s claim, they’re also trying to determine if the reason Jim Morrison’s son hasn’t been known is because he’s been off the grid.
“I believe I’m Jim Morrison’s son,” one man told the firm just after Prince’s death. “I know this because I spent spent my entire life in prison for armed robbery.”
Most of the calls or emails fail the stink test, but Heir Hunters say they’ve already delivered Prince’s grand-niece Victoria Nelson to a rightful seat at the estate table next to her brother Duane Joseph Nelson, Jr. and sister Brianna Nelson.
“Victoria steps into her grandfather’s shoes and takes a half of a share because her father, Duane Nelson (nicknamed Casper and died in 2005), was a half-brother and would get one-seventh of that estate,” Hilbert said of the Minnesota-based teen.
And as the infighting amongst Prince’s family members simmers publicly, they may all soon bow down to a 30-something Minnesota mystery man who claims he’s Prince’s secret “love child” from a fling in the mid-1980s, the Daily Mail revealed last week.
The man, who is not repped by a lawyer, stuck out from the first phone call. “He approaches when he saw the picture Prince died intestate,” Hilbert told The Daily Beast. “He was stunned and under the impression that time was of the essence, that we had to rush to the courthouse.”
The agency’s founders, whom he found from their TV appearances, settled his fears after a few phone calls in which they assured him Prince’s assets had to be counted and his debts paid before anybody can get at the $300 million-plus estate.
Prince’s self-proclaimed son walked the agency’s heads through a timeline of his life that they say so far “checks out.”
“He’s a terrific guy,” Mansukhani told us, adding that they are taking time to be certain the young man is legitimate. “It’s like a puzzle and there’s some good pieces that fit in place. The schedules do match.
“A lot of people will wonder ‘Well, why is he coming forward now, when he had his whole life to do this?’ but he has never felt like Prince was going to die so young… He told us ‘I want to know.’
If he is indeed Prince’s love child, that would mean every sibling is out of the running for the otherworldly artists’ riches. “Nobody will be happier than he is,” Hilbert said.
Days after Prince died, his sister Tyka Nelson filed an emergency petition to appoint a special administrator to oversee the 57-year-old rockstar’s $300-million estate.
Prince, known for his vice grip over his manna-filled music catalogue, apparently left no will.
In court on Monday, Nelson, the “Purple Rain” crooner’s only full biological sibling, sequestered herself between a pair of lawyers. She didn’t mingle with Prince’s other half-brothers and half-sisters standing in line for a piece of the Paisley Park pie.
Rumors have run wild since Tyka and four of Prince’s half-siblings left Carver County court separately last week, each with their own line of bodyguards.
There was buzz of a shadowy plot to get half-brother Alfred Jackson declared incompetent and effectively remove him from the estate battle. Days before the May 2 court date, someone mysteriously filed a missing person’s report for the 63-year-old disabled Vietnam vet, who lives at a VA facility, TMZ reported.
Jackson’s attorney, Frank Wheaton, had to race to a Minnesota police department to prove the half-sibling was competent. Wheaton told The Daily Beast the report was “erroneous, but we don’t know from whence or where it came.”
“Certainly the other heirs have said they had nothing to do with it,” Wheaton said, adding that he and his client “initially” thought they did.
“Some finger-pointing took place,” the attorney told us. “The lawyers for Tyka called me and said it wasn’t their client. You have to have to take it for truth. And they extended an olive branch to me and my client. I accepted it and forgave whoever was at the bottom of it.”
Prince was found dead at age 57 in the elevator of his Chanhassen, Minnesota estate on April 21. After a private funeral service, his brother-in-law, Maurice Phillips, claimed the singer had just come off working 154 hours straight without sleep before he died.
The musician’s tragic demise also came one week after a health scare prompted his plane to make an emergency landing in Atlanta, where he was hospitalized for flu-like symptoms.
While an autopsy is pending and a cause of death hasn’t been identified, authorities told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Prince had the painkiller Percocet in his body when he died.
On Wednesday, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced they would join the probe into Prince’s death, following reports that cops found the prescription painkillers on the singer and hoarded in his home.
Indeed, the music legend was scheduled to meet an addiction doctor one day before he died.
Prince’s representatives called in Dr. Howard Kornfeld, a national expert with a rehab facility in Marin County, California, because the singer “was dealing with a grave medical emergency,” an attorney for Kornfeld said, according to the Star Tribune.
Kornfeld sent his son and employee, Andrew, to Minnesota to explain how the treatment would work. But when Andrew arrived Thursday morning, Prince’s crew couldn’t find the musician at first. It was Andrew who dialed 911 after Prince’s body was found. “We’re at Prince’s house,” Andrew, unfamiliar with the area, simply told the dispatcher, the Star Tribune reported.
Andrew Kornfeld, who is a pre-med student, allegedly had Suboxone, a synthetic opioid used to treat addiction, in his backpack and could face criminal charges, People reported.
As authorities piece together the final days of the drug-addled superstar, his relatives are left to bicker over his estate.
On Friday, a judge allowed Bremer Trust, the special administrator of Prince’s funds, to obtain DNA tests of Prince’s blood in anticipation of potential heirs coming forward.
The Carver County judge also gave anyone with a claim against Prince’s estate just four months to file a notice with the court or Bremer Trust.
The same day, an Atlanta woman who goes by many names, including Dr. K.K. Ferraro, filed a claim seeking “over $750 billion,” the Star Tribune reported.
According to the Tribune, Ferraro submitted letters detailing her “now 40 years long post-Civil Rights Movement Sociopolitical Hostage Crisis,” for which she’s sought compensation from Prince since the 1980s.
Prince was generous to his family over the years, providing cash and even homes for siblings, who lived in some of the dozen properties he owned in suburban Minneapolis.
Some relatives relied on Prince for an allowance and after they were cut off, comedian George Lopez stepped in to front $20,000 in living and travel expenses for the family, TMZ reported.
“I assisted the brothers that were in need at that particular moment,” Lopez told Entertainment Tonight.
Tyka Nelson, a 55-year-old gospel singer, is Prince’s only full sibling. Their late parents, jazz musician John L. Nelson and singer Mattie Della Shaw, divorced when they were young.
It was Tyka who filed a motion to appoint a special administrator to gather and protect Prince’s assets.
Prince was not married and had no surviving parents or children, so his siblings will split his estate. Under Minnesota state law, siblings and half-siblings are treated equally.
Initial court documents listed five half-siblings: John R. Nelson, Norrine Nelson, Sharon Nelson, Omarr Baker and Alfred Jackson. Half-sister Lorna Nelson, who died in 2006, is also named.
According to TMZ, Tyka Nelson stormed out of a first meeting with Prince’s half-siblings, which included Jackson and Baker, over money squabbles. During the confab, Jackson told Nelson he was upset that he was the only sibling excluded from Prince’s memorial service.
Nelson, who allegedly told National Enquirer she was addicted to crack cocaine and prostituted herself to feed her habit, had a strained relationship with Prince. In the 2003 Enquirer interview, she said she pawned a car Prince gave her to buy drugs.
“I love my brother. But I’m not a yo-yo. He can’t just keep spinning me in and out of his life,” Tyka once said, according to People.
Little is known about Norrine Nelson, 74, of Minneapolis, and John Nelson, 72, who lives in Kansas City, according to the Associated Press. Sharon Nelson, 76, moved to New York City, where she pursued a music career and released an album called “57th Street Sound.”
A family friend who worked with Prince’s father told The Daily Beast that Prince stayed with Sharon in New York when he was just 17, before he got a record deal.
“We’re all thinking perhaps there isn’t [a will],” the friend said. “We can’t imagine how Prince wouldn’t have something like that. He was so picky and choosy, and he did what he wanted to do.”
Omarr Baker, 45, lives in a house owned by Prince, yet few other details are known about him. A former girlfriend took to Facebook to say Baker always claimed to be Prince’s half-brother. “Yeah, I never believed him for a minute. I think he thought that since he looked so much like Prince, he could use that line on the ladies,” the Minnesota gal wrote.
Another woman claiming to be a half-sibling, Darcell Gresham Johnston, has also come forward.
The 45-year-old Illinois mother of three has kept a low profile. When contacted by a Daily Beast reporter, she said “no comment” before hanging up the phone.
In a May 3 post in a Gresham family Facebook group, Johnston asked Minneapolis kin to dodge reporters. “For all the Mlps Greshams if a news report contacts you pls say no comment.”
Johnston, who claims she shares a mother with Prince, twice filed for bankruptcy, in 2006 and 2011, court records show.
When asked whether Johnston was close to Prince, an ex-husband told The Daily Beast, “I’ve never heard anything about it, no. I don’t know anything about the situation.”
Still, in a November 2013 Facebook post, Johnston wrote, “I have 15 sibling Prince being one (family secret) I’m number 13.” Strangely enough, friends didn’t respond to the mention of the pop star at the time.
Meanwhile, one of the wackier estate claims comes from Rodney Herachio Dixon, a California man who says he’s “the sole and exclusive owner of all intellectual properties after the death of Prince Rogers Nelson,” in a Minnesota court filing.
Dixon, who went by the names Aeric Alexander Mercury and Rameses America Mercury when he filed lawsuits against Prince in the 1990s, said the two had an “implied agreement” over Dixon’s ownership and that the music icon owed him $1 billion. A judge dismissed the claim.
“He may have been seeking his 15 minutes,” Wheaton told The Daily Beast. “I certainly had not heard of him, and I don’t know if anybody else had.”