A dead celebrity like John Wayne is worth millions and a good lawsuit

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A dead celebrity like John Wayne is worth millions and a good lawsuit

Mon Jun 07, 2010 @ 07:23PM PST
By Eriq Gardner

Johnwayne.gif How much is John Wayne worth these days?

That's the question the legendary actor's daughter and five of his grandchildren are asking a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in a new lawsuit.

The defendant is the successor to Wayne Enterprises, a trust set up in 1998 to manage various assets, including the "right to exploit John Wayne's name and likeness."

The company's partnership agreement expired on January 1 this year, and the trustees attempted to set up a new entity called John Wayne Enterprises, barring any objection from any of the partners including John Wayne's daughter, Alyssa Wayne, and several of his grandchildren.

But there was objection.

Alyssa demanded that John Wayne Enterprises buy out her 14 percent share. In addition, five grandchildren wanted out of each of their 2.8 percent shares. The price tag? Alyssa offered her share for $2,156,000, which would value John Wayne's name and likeness at $15.4 million.

John Wayne Enterprises rejected the offer.

And so, the plaintiffs are now suing, having "elected to exercise their dissenters' rights and demand the purchase of their respective partnership interests at fair market value."

A judge will soon determine what's fair market for owning "John Wayne" right now.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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