Lisa Marie Presley had a lavish childhood. According to Forbes, Elvis Presley’s daughter had ponies, private access to an amusement park for herself and her friends, and legions of household employees to cater to her every whim. 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.
The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was regarded as a free spender. According to Forbes, estimates place his lifetime earnings anywhere from $100 million up to one billion dollars. With that much money, there’s no doubt Elvis felt free to splurge as much as he wanted on his only daughter. When Elvis’ bank account started to get empty, he could easily go on tour or set up a movie deal and the money would start flowing again.
Unfortunately, Elvis’ finances took a turn on the fateful day of August 17, 1977. His estate was in poor condition with only about $5 million and tons of debt. A few years later, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, the IRS determined the actual value of the Elvis Presley estate was worth more than what the estate’s tax return disclosed and imposed a $10-million estate tax.
The estate was left in shambles and couldn’t depend on tours, movies or music royalties to keep it afloat. This is because Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker, had previously arranged a deal to sell those to RCA for $5.4 million, out of which only $1.35 million went to Elvis after Parker’s 50% fee and income taxes. It took a probate court to remove Parker and his 50% fee from future dealings.
When Elvis’ father passed in 1979, Priscilla Presley, Elvis’ ex-wife, assumed primary management of the Elvis Presley Estate, as one of its executors. It was their job to oversee the estate until Lisa Marie turned 25 on February 1st, 1993. Priscilla formed Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE), with the help of financial professionals, to manage all Elvis image rights and remaining royalties, which primarily included turning Graceland into a tourist attraction. Between image deals, merchandising, and royalties from songs recorded after the RCA deal, Priscilla and the other executors helped grow the Elvis Estate to a reported $100 million by 1993. That was the year Lisa Marie Presley turned 25 and became eligible to inherit the money directly under Elvis’ last will.
Instead of receiving her father’s fortune, Lisa Marie created her own revocable trust. Ten years later, she appointed business manager Barry Siegel as co-trustee. His job was to be primarily in charge of managing the trust’s assets.
Less than two years into the partnership, Siegel sold 85% of the Trust’s interests in EPE, which was worth around $100 million at the time. The deal brought only $40 million after taxes, plus $25 million worth of stock in the future of the holding company of American Idol. While not the entire $100 million Lisa Marie was supposed to inherit, the money left should’ve been enough to keep afloat.
Unfortunately, Between 2005 And 2015, Most Of The Money Was Gone
This left Lisa Marie deeply in debt. Three years later, Lisa Marie sued Siegel and his financial company, accusing them of hiding the Trust’s true financial condition. When Siegel was removed from his duties in 2015, Lisa Marie shared that the Trust was left with only $14,000 cash and she owed hundreds of dollars in unpaid taxes and debt. Siegel denies the allegations and instead blames Lisa Marie for excessive spending.
According to court documents obtained by The Blast, a judge sided with Presley and granted her motion seeking to shut down subpoenas relating to her bank records, relating to her Elvis Presley inheritance. The judge ordered Presley to turn over bank records prior to 2016, but that lawsuit is still pending.