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Judge rules in favor of former business advisors of deceased icon

A Delaware judge has ruled in a legal battle over half of Prince’s estate, ruling in favor of the late musician’s former business advisors.

The ruling comes in light of an ongoing lawsuit against several of the late artist’s heirs, brought to court by the musician’s former business advisors, L. Londell McMillan and Charles Spicer Jr.

More than eight years after Prince’s death, the two are now managers of Prince Legacy LLC, an estate management company they founded with several of the artist’s heirs.

Despite forming the company together, some family members allegedly tried to oust them. The lawsuit names them as Prince’s half-sisters, Sharon and Norrine Nelson, as well as his niece, Breanna Nelson, and nephew, Allen Nelson (via Notice board).

Now, a Delaware judge has ruled that the relatives cannot change the LLC agreement and remove the advisors because that would be an unlawful breach of its terms.

In her decision, Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick wrote (via Fork): “The LLC agreement is unambiguous and the (McMillan and Spicer) interpretation is the only reasonable one.

Prince performs live at the Fabulous Forum on February 19, 1985 in Inglewood, California. (Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“Plaintiffs allege that Defendants breached the LLC agreement by allegedly removing the managing members and amending the LLC agreement. As stated in the analysis above, this allegation is properly founded. Plaintiffs have asserted a breach of contract claim.”

In a statement shared with the outlet, McMillan and Spicer were both relieved by the judge’s decision. It also said Johnny Nicholas Nelson Torres — a relative of Prince’s who joined the attorney’s lawsuit as a plaintiff — agreed with the ruling.

“I protected Prince and was his partner for decades. Nothing will change our history and my loyalty to him and his legacy,” McMillan said Fork“We are pleased with the judge’s decision and would like to not be forced to take legal action for the wrongdoing of the defendants (and their advisors), but we have a tremendous responsibility to preserve and protect Prince’s legacy and everything he created by any means necessary.”

The defendants’ attorney has not yet publicly commented, nor has he responded to Pitchfork and Billboard’s requests for comment.

Prince died in 2016 of a fentanyl overdose, and because he had no will, his six heirs inherited equal shares of his estate. It also sparked a lengthy legal battle over how the estate would be managed going forward.

The case concluded in August 2022, and it was decided that the estate would be divided into two companies — one controlled by Primary Wave after buying shares from three heirs, and the other, Prince Legacy LLC, which is controlled by McMillan, Spicer and three other relatives.

Musician Prince performs in 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Although the decision was mutually agreed upon, both McMillan and Spicer sued the three heirs in January, claiming they were trying to force them out of the partnership. They also claimed Nelson became “disgruntled” when they refused to accept her “unreasonable demands” – which escalated the situation.

Primary Wave was not involved in the lawsuit, nor has it been accused of any wrongdoing. Despite the judge’s ruling, the lawsuit is not expected to go anywhere, as it also ruled that the two plaintiffs can pursue their claims that the heirs breached the agreement by trying to change the LLC agreement.

This is an evolving story.

In other Prince news, last month it was announced that the artist’s classic 1984 album Purple Rain would be released in a new, immersive Dolby Atmos version to celebrate its 40th anniversary.