Judge rules in family feud over Hendrix's 80 million dollar estate
Judge rules in family feud over Jimi Hendrix's 80 million dollar estate
SEATTLE (AFP) - The half-brother of 1960s rock legend Jimi Hendrix has lost a bitter legal battle for a slice of the guitarist's estate, worth at least 80 million dollars.
The decision came after a years-long feud that polarised the Hendrix family and threw into question the future of the musician's lucrative musical legacy.
Leon Hendrix, Jimi's half-brother, had sued the rocker's estate claiming that his adopted step-sister, Janie, unfairly influenced their late father into cutting him out of his will before the family patriarch died in 2002.
He had demanded to be reinstated as an heir to the will and the share of funds he was originally allotted by his father, while around 14 other relatives accused Janie of financial impropiety concerning the estate
Musician Leon, 56, accused Janie, 43, of manipulating her father into appointing her to run the multiple trusts, partnerships and companies that make up the Hendrix estate.
But Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell, in King County Superior Court in Seattle, ruled after an acrimonious three-month trial that Al Hendrix had intended to cut his son Leon out of his estate and give Janie control of the estate.
Al Hendrix had inherited his late son's estate when Jimi died without a will after a drug overdose in London almost exactly 24 years ago.
"Leon Hendrix and his children have failed to prove the existence of undue influence," the judge wrote in his ruling that refused Leon's bid to be reinstate as an heir to the fortune spawned by his half brother.
The father's decision to cut Leon from his will sparked a family feud with relatives of Jimi Hendrix trying to dislodge Janie, who is not a blood relative of Jimi, from controlling his estate and musical legacy.
The trial mostly focused on control of cash earned from Hendrix's posthumous record releases, royalties and rights to a range of Hendrix merchandise that reportedly generate several million dollars a year.
While Leon lost his battle for a stake in the estate, other relatives succeeded in having Janie and her cousin Robert removed as their representatives to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, which controls his music and image.
But the ruling maintained Janie's role as head of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and as executor of Al's estate.
And the judge ruled there was no sufficient evidence of financial impropriety by Janie and Robert, a claim made by other Hendrix clan members, that should force the pair to relinquish control of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
The family members had claimed that Janie and Robert had improperly lavished millions of estate money on themselves.
Janie Hendrix -- who was adopted by Al Hendrix and her mother, June Jinka, in 1968 -- runs the estate with her cousin Robert and claimed she helped her father regain the rights to his son's music and then helped manage the disorganised and debt-ridden estate back to financial health.
She also contended that Al Hendrix had decided to disinherit Leon after the two became estranged over Leon's alleged battle with drug abuse.
"Janie and Robert are happy that her father's wishes were honoured, but she feels sad that Leon and her father were estranged," said Bob Merlis of Experience Hendrix LLC, the firm set up in 1995 to market Hendrix's legacy.
"They are a responsible company that tries to honour the legacy of Jimi Hendrix and they want to keep doing their job," he said.
Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 27 after releasing just four full albums, but left much additional recorded music and a legend that has grown in the more than three decades since his death.
Some reports have estimated the total value of Jimi Hendrix's legacy at between 100 million and 240 million dollars, and Merlis said Janie's leadership had earned the estate 45 million dollars in eight years, more than the previous estate management had earned in more than 20.