Day 6: Prince's sister says he left no will
Over the course of his career, Prince made millions of dollars. What's less clear is how much he left behind and who'll come forward to claim the late star's assets.
The music community continues to mourn the April 21 death of Prince as questions mount about the future of his estate (all times approximate):
5:50 p.m. ET: The artist D'Angelo tweets that he'll be performing a "special tribute" to Prince on The Tonight Show, which airs 11:35 p.m. ET.
12:24 p.m. ET: Prince’s sister says the superstar musician had no known will and she’s filed paperwork asking that a special administrator be appointed to oversee his estate, the Associated Press reports. Under Minnesota law, this is done in cases where no executor has been predetermined.
Tyka Nelson filed the paperwork Tuesday in Carver County probate court in Minneapolis. Prince died at age 57 on Thursday at his estate in suburban Minneapolis. No cause of death has yet been released. Nelson is his only surviving full sibling, but Minnesota law does not distinguish between full and half siblings when it comes to dividing estates.
Nelson says in her filing that an emergency exists because immediate action is necessary to manage Prince’s business interests.
With some $27 million in property and an outpouring of nostalgia over the pop star’s death, Prince’s heirs could stand to inherit a small fortune. The size of the fortune isn’t clear, and recent disputes suggest money was tight.
11:41 am. ET: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has published a video interview with attorney Mike Padden, who represented Prince’s now-deceased half-siblings Lorna and Duane Nelson. He says they informed him the singer had a “significant problem” with Percocet and cocaine more than a decade ago. He added that Lorna even foretold of Prince’s death: “The way she phrased it was that her brother would die before his time and he would die of a heart attack.”
Lorna and Duane, who died in 2006 and 2011, respectively, were two of five half-siblings through Prince’s father John, who died in 2001. His mother, Mattie, died in 2002 and had two other children following her 1966 divorce from John. Prince’s younger sister Tyka is his only full sibling.
Padden said that Duane, who served as head of security for Prince, “would get him the Percocet” involving the use of straw buyers who would report false symptoms to their doctor and get a prescription. "He would get it, give it to Prince and they would be paid a hefty fee. His sister independently corroborated every single thing that Duane said to me.”
(Duane Nelson was not listed by Tyka Nelson as an "interested party" to Prince's estate in her petition Tuesday for appointment of a special administrator in the absence of a will — possibly because Duane may have been a stepbrother to Prince instead of a half-brother. But she did list Lorna Nelson.)
Padden told USA TODAY he thinks what Duane and Lorna told him 15 years ago about Prince's alleged drug use is still significant to whatever caused Prince's death. He said he believes reports that Percocet may have played a role in Prince's emergency visit to a hospital a week before his death.
"I'm conveying what (Duane and Lorna) told me," Padden said. "People can reach their own conclusions on what that means, but I wouldn't be saying it publicly if I did not believe it's significant."
Padden confirmed to the Star-Tribune that he has given an interview to the Carver County Sheriff’s Department in the days since Prince's death.
“I felt it was important that they know that in terms of the autopsy, so they could have some kind of direction,” he explained.
For their part, the police have not issued any updates that indicate their investigation is now focusing on that angle. In their press conference Friday, Sheriff Jim Olson and Martha Weaver, the spokesperson for the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office, emphasized that they would not release the autopsy findings until all of the results were complete, including the toxicology analysis, which can take weeks.
Meanwhile, other members of Prince’s entourage maintain that he lived a clean life.
L. Londell McMillan, a lawyer who knew the singer for 25 years and acted as his manager, told the Associated Press that he’d spoken with Prince the weekend before his death. He’d heard about the medical emergency that forced Prince's plane to make an unscheduled landing in Illinois on that Friday evening.
“He said he was doing perfect,” McMillan recalled. “He said, ‘OK, I’ll call you soon.’”
Robbie Paster, who worked as Prince’s personal assistant from 1984 to 1992, told a similar story to the Star-Tribune. “I never knew of any opiate or cocaine problem,” he said. "There’s no way you can do both of those and be as driven as he was. I never saw it.”
9:49 a.m. ET: St. Paul's KARE-TV reported that members of Minnesota's House and Senate took turns reading a resolution recapping Prince's contributions to his home state during Monday's session. It concluded with a rendition of Purple Rain sung by Rep. Peggy Flanagan, accompanied by Rep. Mike Freiberg on keyboards, followed by a standing ovation. "I just needed something to do with my grief," Flanagan explained to KARE. "This is something we can pour some energy into and to honor someone who is so purely Minnesotan — he’s ours."
9:32 a.m. ET: As posthumous Prince record sales skyrocket — 2.8 million songs and 650,000 albums have been purchased since his death on Thursday — eyes are beginning to turn to the future of the singer's estate. It's unlikely that an artist as business savvy as Prince would have died without a will. However, it's possible that he arranged for his assets to flow into a trust, the details of which are not made public like wills and other probate court documents. USA TODAY tackles six key questions about his estate here.
9:22 a.m. ET: On Monday night's The Voice, the celebrity coaches remembered Prince as the stage glowed with purple lights.
"It seems like all of a sudden I woke up and he was gone," Adam Levine said (via Yahoo). "Probably one of the most profound musical influences on me, personally. ... And I just have a lot of respect for someone who is able to continue to make amazing music and never changing anything about who he was."
Pharrell remembered growing up with Prince's music. "I will never forget when I was a little boy, a friend in Virginia Beach, Va., would get his records in the mail. When that Purple Rain album came, it played in that apartment complex for the rest of the summer. That’s all my childhood. I will never forget what Darling Nikki felt like. I will never forget (what) I Would Die 4 U feels like."
"I loved his passion for artists, an artist’s rights, and truly staying authentic and genuine to music," Christina Aguilera said. "There was nothing manufactured about what he did and what he stood for, and that I appreciate more than anything about him.”
Blake Shelton never got a chance to meet the music. “I wish I would have had a chance to meet Prince; I can only speak of him like a fan, like most of us,” he said. “His music still, to this day, can change my day. It changes my mood every time I hear it. He was larger than life, and he’s gone, and it’s upsetting, and he is already missed.”
9:11 a.m. ET Tuesday: Not every Prince song is appropriate for eighth-graders, but Raspberry Beret is one of them. Coldplay's Chris Martin chose the Prince classic to cover at a benefit concert in L.A. for pediatric cancer research, accompanied by a band of teenagers.
“Yesterday, I said, ‘Let’s do this song ...'I said, ‘It’s a very famous Prince song,’ and they said, ‘We don’t know it. We never heard of it. We’re like 14,'" he told the crowd, reports EW. "And I said, ‘Well, ask your grandfather.’ They learned it in like three hours, and now we’re going to play it.'”
Watch fan-shot footage from the audience below.