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From his humble beginnings in Mississippi, to his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Elvis Presley’s net worth at the time of his death was a fortune fit for a king—especially when we’re talking about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself. However, his net worth at the end of his life pales in comparison to how much the Presley estate is worth today.
Up ahead, we’re diving into everything there is to know about Elvis Presley’s net worth, from how much he had in the bank upon his death in 1977, to who inherited his massive fortune and turned Graceland into what it is today. But first, let’s take a look back on the King’s early days before his “Hound Dog” hips took the world by storm.
Born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935, Elvis Aron Presley was raised by working-class parents as an only child after his twin brother, Jesse, died in their mother’s womb before birth. Elvis was dedicated to his parents, especially to his mother Gladys, who ran a tight-knit household while his father, Vernon, worked odd jobs to make ends meet. They moved and relocated often, but their faith as a family was always a constant. Elvis and his parents attended the Assembly of God Church together throughout his childhood, and it was in church where Elvis was first exposed to the power of music. Gospel ballads, along with popular jazz of the time, would go on to influence him greatly in the years to come.
On his 11th birthday in 1946, Presley got his first guitar as a present from his mother. It wasn’t until after his family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, however, that Elvis started to get his first taste of musical success after winning a talent competition in high school. After graduating from Humes High in 1953, Elvis worked a handful of jobs while pursuing his dreams of becoming a professional singer. Though Elvis couldn’t read or write music (and even flunked out of music classes as a child) he had a knack for playing and singing by ear.
Later that year, Elvis recorded his first demo at what would later be known as Sun Studio. A young Elvis made a lasting impression on label boss Sam Philips, who asked Elvis to return to the studio to record what would become his first major hit, “That’s All Right,” which was released in 1954. The rest, as they say, is history. By the end of the decade, Elvis was one of the most renowned artists in the world, having released a string of chart-topping singles and appearing in a number of television shows, films and radio broadcasts across the country.
What was Elvis Presley’s net worth at the time of his death?
After nearly 30 years in the business, Elvis Presley’s net worth at the time of his death was pretty substantial. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the King of Rock n’ Roll was worth an estimated $5 million at the time of his death in August 1977. Adjusting for inflation, Elvis Presley’s net worth when he died would round out to around $20 million by today’s standards.
While $5 million is by no means insignificant, it was significantly less than what he made in the two decades prior to his death. Elvis burned through millions in real estate, his divorce from Priscilla Presley, his prescription drug addiction and on his entourage, comprised of many family members and close friends. His biggest expense to date was the purchase and maintenance of his Graceland mansion in Memphis, which continues to rake in millions as a historic tourist site from the public every year. It’s also worth noting that the Presley estate continues to earn hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to licensing fees following the King’s death. But who is all of that money going to? Keep on reading ahead for what we know.
Who inherited Elvis Presley’s estate?
Who inherited Elvis Presley’s estate? Elvis died on August 16, 1977. He was 42 years old. Elvis’ will appointed his father, Vernon Presley, as the executor and a trustee of his estate. The beneficiaries of the trust were Vernon; his daughter Lisa Marie (whom he shared with ex-wife Priscilla Presley); and his grandmother, Minnie Mae Presley. Because Lisa Marie was 9 years old at the time of her father’s death, her inheritance was held until her 25th birthday. Elvis’ mother, Gladys, died 19 years before him in 1958—hence her exclusion from his will.
After Vernon’s death in 1979, Lisa Marie’s mother and Elvis’ ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, was named as one of three trustees in Elvis’ will. The other trustees were the National Bank of Commerce in Memphis and Joseph Hanks, who had been Elvis’ accountant. After Minnie Mae’s death in 1980, Lisa Marie became the only surviving beneficiary. Lisa Marie inherited Elvis’ whole estate on her 25th birthday on February 1, 1993. Due to his years of excessive spending and being bilked by his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’ estate was worth $5 million at the time of his death, with just $1 million dedicated to Lisa Marie before the deaths of Vernon and Minnie Mae. However, by the time Lisa Marie inherited Elvis’ whole estate in 1993, the amount had grown to $100 million, thanks to the stewardship of Priscilla. “I tried to ignore it,” Lisa Marie told People at the time. “I think it’s time. I do [have new responsibilities], but it’s not like a major new thing, except maybe for people who didn’t know my role.” She continued of her new role at the time as the owner of the Elvis Presley Trust, “Everything remains the same, except I’m on the management team now.”
Jerry Schilling, Lisa Marie’s manager and Elvis’ longtime friend, also told People at the time of Lisa Marie’s readiness to inherit her father’s estate. “I think marriage and motherhood have made her a responsible person,” he said at the time. “I have seen her grow so much.” He continued, “If [the inheritance] had happened five years ago, it potentially could have affected her. But I think I Lisa has prepared herself.”
Lisa Marie also praised Priscilla’s stewardship over the estate in the interview with People. “She’s done an astounding job,” she said. “She’s incredible, and I have huge admiration and respect for what she’s accomplished.”
In 1998, Lisa Marie became more involved as the owner and chairman of the board of the Elvis Presley Trust and its business entity, Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. She told 85 percent of the estate’s business holdings to CKX Inc. (now known as Industrial Media, LLC) with the exception of Graceland and the properties within it. In 2018, Lisa Marie sued her former manager, Barry Siegel, for the alleged “reckless and negligent mismanagement” of her estate, which had left her with only $14,000, according to court documents obtained by The Blast. Siegel countered the suit and claimed that the low amount was a result of Lisa Marie’s excessive spending. He also damanded $800,000 in damages from Lisa Marie for non-payment.
In the court documents, Siegel claimed that Lisa Marie’s 2005 deal to sell 85 percent of her share of Elvis Presley Enterprises, which he negotiated, “cleared up over $20m in debts Lisa had incurred and netted her over $40m cash and a multi-million dollar income stream.” Lisa Marie, however, claimed that the deal lost her millions due to a subsequent investment in Core Entertainment, the production company behind American Idol that went bankrupt in 2016.
Siegel sold off 85 percent of her share in the Elvis Presley Enterprises company in 2005, a deal that he says “cleared up over $20m in debts Lisa had incurred and netted her over $40m cash and a multi-million dollar income stream”. Presley says it lost her millions thanks to a subsequent investment in Core Entertainment, the company behind American Idol that went bankrupt in 2016. According to tax filings obtained by The Guardian, the Presley Charitable Foundation had operated at an annual loss each tax year since 2009. The Guardian also reported that annual revenue was down to just $26 in one year.
The lawsuit between Lisa Marie and Siegel came at the time of her divorce from her fourth husband, Michael Lockwood, in 2018. According to court documents obtained by People, Lisa Marie claimed that she was $16.7 million in debt as a result of what she owed in income taxes, a defaulted mortgage and credit card bills. Lisa Marie’s business manager at the time, Justin Stiegemeyer—who was responsible for her “day-to-day finances and paying all of her bills”—claimed her had had first learned of her debt while her former business manager, Provident Financial Management, was handling her finances. As a result, Stiegemeyer claimed that Lisa Marie “had not been provided with proper accountings or notices or been kept abreast of her finances” by her former business manager and that she had “total liquid assets of less than $20,000” at the time they were fired. Stiegemeyer also reported that, “by the end of 2015,” there were “no additional funds” other than “the approximately $20,00 of liquid assets” available to Lisa Marie to use to pay her debts. He added that a majority of her debts were related to unpaid income taxes” from 2012 to 2015, which “total over $10 million.” Stiegemeyer also claimed that Lisa Marie owed almost $50,000 in credit card debt and that she had already paid off one of three “outstanding American Express cards each totaling approximately $300,000” in October 2017 an made the final payment on a “Citicard credit card with a balance due of $111,083” in January 2018. He stated at the time that the remaining outstanding American Express bills were expected to be “paid in full in September 2018.” “Suffice it to say that in addition to having to pay off these debts, the payment issues with these cards has caused [Lisa Marie’s] credit to be significantly impaired,” Stiegemeyer said. Stiegemeyer also stated that Lisa Marie hoped at the time to start payments toward her income tax debt “once we have paid off the credit cards and various legal fee debts and obligations.” The court documents also revealed that Lisa Marie had defaulted on a mortgage of a $6 million house she owned in the United Kingdom, which she had been trying to sell for two years at the time.
According to the court documents, Lisa Marie received a monthly salary of $4,361 from Elvis’ estate at the time, as well as $100,000 in dividends and interest from investments. Lisa Marie detailed her debt in response to a February 2017 court order requiring her to cover $50,000 of Lockwood’s $450,000 divorce attorney fees.
What is Elvis worth today?
According to Forbes, Elvis Presley’s estate makes him one of the wealthiest dead celebrities today. The publication estimates that the Presley estate earned $23 million in 2020 alone. A majority of this money comes in through Graceland, which earns around $10 million annually during a typical year. All in all, the Presley estate is worth anywhere between $400 to $500 million as of 2020, according to a Presley estate executive cited in a report by Rolling Stone.
For more about Elvis, read Priscilla Presley’s 1986 memoir, Elvis and Me: The True Story of the Love Between Priscilla Presley and the King of Rock N’ Roll
. In the book, Priscilla takes readers through her and Elvis’ relationship, from the moment they met to their marriage to their affairs and eventual divorce. The New York Times bestseller also reveals never-been-told details about Priscilla and Elvis’ relationship and why she still considers their bond “unbreakable” decades after his death. Described as a “tribute to both the man and the legend” that was Elvis, Elvis and Me is a must-read for any Elvis fan and written by the woman who loved him—in her own words.
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