Lisa Marie Presley‘s death at the age of 54 has left unresolved legal battles over her finances, and questions as to how she managed to lose the $100 million fortune left to her by her father.
Presley, whose death on Thursday was confirmed by her mother Priscilla, was still battling her fourth and final husband Michael Lockwood when she died.
Lockwood, father of her twin daughter Vivien and Finley, was seeking $40,000 a month in child support and insisted she had more money than she claimed in court documents.
Presley, in turn, said she was at one point $16 million in debt, following disastrous business deals made by her business manager Barry Siegel.
She sued him in 2018, accusing him of mismanaging her inheritance.
Lisa Marie Presley was Elvis’s only child, and was nine when he died in 1977. He left his entire estate to her, on her 25th birthday
Lisa Marie Presley is seen on Monday night at the Golden Globes
Presley was married to actor Danny Keough, Michael Jackson, and Nicholas Cage before Lockwood, but is not believed to have gained financially from her marriages to the King of Pop and Oscar-winning actor.
The only child of Elvis, she was left his entire estate in his will when he died in 1977, aged 42.
She took control of the trust in 1993, aged 25.
At the time of his death Elvis was worth only $5 million, but Priscilla cannily turned Graceland into a tourist attraction and set up Elvis Presley Enterprises, capitalizing on his image and massive fandom.
By the time Lisa Marie took the reins, the fund was worth a healthy $100 million.
Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, where Lisa Marie was born. The Memphis, Tennessee estate has been turned into a profitable tourist attraction
She appointed Barry Siegel in 1995 to manage the money.
Siegel, senior managing director of Provident Financial Management and a prominent entertainment business manager, counted Al Pacino, Elijah Wood, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as his clients.
But in 2005 Siegel sold off 85 percent of her share in Elvis Presley Enterprises, which saw her lose control of her father’s name and image rights.
Siegel said the deal ‘cleared up over $20m in debts that Lisa had incurred and netted her over $40m cash and a multi-million dollar income stream’.
Presley said it lost her millions thanks to a subsequent investment in Core Entertainment, the company behind American Idol that went bankrupt in 2016.
He then allegedly began liquidating Presley’s assets in order to supplement her trust income.
She also claimed his business decisions left her with a $500,000 credit card debt.
Presley divorced her fourth husband, Michael Lockwood, in 2016, and in their divorce proceedings claimed she was $16 million in debt – which Lockwood said was not true.
According to the documents, Presley at the time owed more than $10 million in taxes from 2012 to 2017 and had defaulted on her debt of more than $6 million from her United Kingdom home.
She also owed $263,050 in professional frees, $47,844 in credit card debt and an estimate of $250,000 in miscellaneous unpaid bills.
Presley revealed her financial struggles in response to a request from Lockwood that she help pay part of his $450,000 in attorney fees.
In 2018, she sued Siegel, accusing him of mismanaging her finances.
Siegel and his company, Providence Financial Management, countersued, alleging Presley’s ‘out-of-control spending’ led to her financial predicament.
Leon Gladstone, a lawyer representing Barry Siegel, said at the time: ‘It’s clear that Lisa Marie is going through a difficult time in her life and is looking to blame others instead of taking responsibility for her actions.’
Yet Presley was adamant that the financial collapse was his fault.
‘Between 2005 and the time of the American Idol bankruptcy, Siegel billed $4.9 million to ‘manage’ the trust, an average annual salary of $701,000 per year,’ the court documents state.
‘Had Siegel disclosed the the trust’s true financial condition to Presley and restricted spending to the trust’s ‘income’ rather than its principal assets, Presley would have lived comfortably on an annual budget of between $1.5 and $2 million per year, after taxes.
‘On this budget, Siegel’s lucrative compensation package would have amounted to between 40 to 50 per cent of Presley’s post-tax annual budget – an amount she undoubtedly would not have agreed to had she been aware of her true financial condition.’
Instead of telling Presley the truth, Siegel covered up the dire straits of her finances, say her lawyers.
‘Siegel repeatedly led Lisa to believe she was in ‘good shape’ with her finances,’ the documents state.
Her attorneys cited several emails from Siegel responding to inquiries from Presley about how her trust fund was faring.
The mother of four may have inherited a taste for the finer things in life.
As a child at Graceland, she had ponies, private access to an amusement park for herself and her friends, and staff at her beck and call.
When Elvis found out that Lisa Marie wanted to see snow for the first time, he ordered his private jet to fly her to Idaho to play in the snow for twenty minutes, before flying her home again.
Elvis, known for his generosity, frequently ran out of money – but would simply go on tour again, and replenish the coffers.
When he died, the family could not even count on royalties, after his infamous manager Colonel Tom Parker – played in the recent Baz Luhrmann film by Tom Hanks – had previously brokered a deal to sell those to RCA for $5.4 million.
Only $1.35 million of that was given to Elvis, after Parker’s 50 percent fee and income taxes.
Priscilla, who divorced Elvis in 1973, turned out to be a business genius, and turned around the estate.
She made Graceland a global tourist destination, and capitalized on merchandising, image deals, and royalties from songs recorded after the RCA deal – leaving the trust with $100 million by 1993.
Lisa Marie lived most of her life in Los Angeles, but in 2010 she and then-husband Lockwood bought a 15th Century manor house set in 50 acres of rural England, in East Sussex.
Coes Hall boasted an orangery, pond and indoor swimming pool plus spectacular grounds including walled gardens, tennis courts and parkland.
She sold the house in 2021 for 3.5 million pounds ($4.3m), after five years on the market.
Presley had in March 2020 bought a 3,500-square-foot five bedroom Calabasas home for $1.8 million.
But scarcely four months later, her son Benjamin Keough, 27, took his own life on the premises.
She sold the home for $2 million in March 2021 in an off-market deal.