Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

Priscilla Presley Faces Lawsuit Claiming She Betrayed Biz Partner Who Prevented ‘Financial Ruin’

By Michael Feb 15, 2024

Priscilla Presley is facing a lawsuit that claims she illegally turned her back on a former business partner who had helped her “dig herself out of impending financial ruin” and played a key role in getting the recent Priscilla movie made.

The lawsuit, filed last year and obtained by Billboard, claims that Elvis Presley’s ex-wife partnered with a woman named Brigitte Kruse in 2022 to help develop and monetize her name and likeness rights — a move that came as Presley was allegedly “60 days from insolvency” and facing $700,000 in unpaid tax debt.

Related

But Kruse claims that in August 2023, Presley and two new advisors suddenly sent her a cease-and-desist letter and “cut off all communication” with her former partner. She claims the sudden about-face came as her extensive and time-consuming efforts on Presley’s behalf were finally paying off.

“Though [Kruse’s company] was integral to the Priscilla movie, all individuals other than Priscilla were excluded from the premiere of the Priscilla Movie at the Venice Film Festival,” reads the October lawsuit, which was first reported Wednesday (Feb. 14) by Daily Beast.

In court filings since the case was first filed, Presley’s lawyers have pushed the dismiss the lawsuit. They argue that Kruse “targeted” their client and that Priscilla split with her former partner because she had discovered that Kruse was “attempting to misappropriate Ms. Presley’s assets.”

Formally, the case against Priscilla was filed by a company called Priscilla Presley Partners, a corporate entity created by Kruse and Presley to commercially exploit Priscilla’s name, image and likeness (known as NIL). According to the lawsuit, the entity is 51% owned by Kruse and 49% owned by Presley.

The lawsuit claims that it was Presley who first approached Kruse to help run her affairs — a role Kruse accepted even though it required her to give up her existing career and “devote her attention full-time to managing Pricilla’s life.” After allegedly discovering that Presley’s “financial position was far worse than expected,” the lawsuit claims Kruse and a colleague named Kevin Fialko immediately “sprang into action to prevent Priscilla’s financial ruin and public embarrassment.”

“Because of the upcoming movie about Priscilla’s life … Kruse (and Fialko) began arranging for engagements for Priscilla to allow her to dig herself out of impending financial ruin (and the potential negative public ramifications of the same), and engaging professionals to keep creditors at bay,” the lawsuit reads.

But according to the lawsuit, the partnership came undone after the intervention of Keya Morgan, a former manager for Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee who was criminally charged with stealing $200,000 in proceeds of memorabilia sales from Lee before his 2018 death. The charges were later dismissed after a jury deadlocked at trial.

The lawsuit claims that Morgan “professed to be a friend of Priscilla’s” and said he wanted to assist in Kruse and Priscilla Presley Partners’ efforts to monetize her likeness, but that shortly after he became involved, the partnership was thrown into chaos.

“The next day, [an attorney] sent Kruse a letter, purportedly on behalf of Priscilla personally, alleging various misconduct, such as falsely alleging that Kruse had attempted to sell Priscilla’s home, and demanding that Kruse cease and desist immediately, any and all activity on behalf of Ms. Presley,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit claims that Presley’s actions have breached the contract that she signed with Kruse when they created the entity, which was allegedly drafted by Presley’s own lawyer.

“In reliance on the agreements defendant voluntarily entered into, plaintiff has devoted substantial time and capital into increasing the value of defendant’s NIL” Priscilla Presley Partners’ lawyers say. “When defendant’s NIL and earning capacity is at its highest that it has been in decades, defendant, without notice, cut off Plaintiff’s ability to exploit that NIL for her sole benefit.”

In the months since the case against Presley was first filed, her attorneys hit back with their own version of events.

In a November motion to dismiss the case, Presley’s lawyers say Kruse “targeted” their client and “inserted herself” into her affairs, and had somehow “convinced” Priscilla to sign an agreement where she was only a minority owner of her own NIL rights. And they say the sudden split came about because of Kruse’s own improper actions, not because of any other cause.

“Eventually, Ms. Presley learned that Ms. Kruse and her associate were attempting to misappropriate Ms. Presley’s assets and were engaging in other acts of wrongdoing,” Presley’s lawyers wrote in a November response. “Thus, Ms. Presley began extricating herself from Ms. Kruse’s various entanglements. In response, Ms. Kruse … utilized her control of [Priscilla Presley Partners] to orchestrate and file this Florida lawsuit.”

In technical terms, Presley’s lawyers are seeking to toss out the case on far simpler grounds: That she has no connections to the Florida county where Priscilla Presley Partners filed the lawsuit, meaning the court lacks jurisdiction to hear it.

A hearing on Presley’s motion to dismiss is scheduled for May. Neither side immediately returned a request for comment on Wednesday. Morgan, who was not named as a defendant or accused of any wrongdoing, could not immediately be located for comment.

By Michael

Related Post