By Adrian Sainz
MEMPHIS – The money-making enterprise called Elvis Presley has been sold.
Authentic Brands Group said Tuesday it has bought Elvis Presley’s intellectual property from CORE Media Group and is partnering with the founder of another company to operate the Graceland tourist attraction.
The purchase gives Authentic Brands control of Elvis Presley Enterprises, which manages the licensing and merchandising rights to Presley’s image, name and likeness, in addition to a massive collection of music, photos, movies, television appearances and performance specials featuring the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
As part of the deal, National Entertainment Collectibles Association founder Joel Weinshanker acquires Graceland’s operating rights, according to a statement announcing the sale. Weinshanker, Authentic Brands and the Presley family will partner in operating Graceland, it added.
A purchase price wasn’t disclosed. Also known as ABG, Authentic Brands Group is a New York-based intellectual property corporation that manages brands including Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali.
“This is an exciting day for Elvis and his fans,” Priscilla Presley, the singer’s former wife, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the ABG team to further promote the legacy of Elvis. This is the opportunity the family has been envisioning to expand the Graceland experience and enhance Elvis’ image all over the world.”
Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, says she will continue to own the Graceland home and the original items inside it.
“The licensing and merchandising aspect of this business is not to be confused with the fact that the property will always remain with me and my family,” Lisa Marie Presley said.
Elvis Presley died at age 42 in Memphis on Aug. 16, 1977.
The Graceland home opened for tours on June 7, 1982. Presley-related exhibits, restaurants and gift shops selling clothing and memorabilia are located across the street from the home. More than 500,000 people visit Graceland each year, bringing in millions in tourist revenue for its owner and the city.
Elvis Presley Enterprises runs a worldwide merchandising and licensing business that keeps Elvis’ legend strong. In 2012, Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden said the licensing business generated about $32 million a year in revenue.
Plans to refurbish and modernize the tourist attraction had been put on hold, but they could be renewed now that the sale is complete. Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley both mentioned a possible expansion of Graceland in their statements Tuesday.
CORE Media Group was bought by private equity firm Apollo Global Management in 2011 for $511 million. Formerly known as CKx Inc., CORE Media owns rights to “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
National Entertainment Collectibles Association is a media and entertainment distribution company operating in the United States and internationally.