Sunday, April 17, 2011

When Bob Marley died intestate ...

In his 100-year history of the law firm Livingston Alexander & Levy, Ken Jones' writes of one of their most interesting projects: the Bob Marley estate

From the Sunday Gleaner - 16 April 2011
By Ken Jones

(click link at end of excerpt for full article)

Bob Marley died intestate, leaving no will providing for beneficiaries including his children. It was understood that Rastafarians do not make wills. Administrators had to be appointed for the estate. They were Mutual Security Trust Company Ltd, George Desnoes and Rita Marley.

Some time after the appointment of the administrators, it was ascertained that Rita Marley was not qualified and an application had to be made to the court dealing with that. It was at this stage that the administrator Mutual Security Trust Company retained Livingston, Alexander and Levy to make the application concerning the disqualification. Thereafter, there were several cases which the firm had to deal with; one being to determine who the beneficiaries were. Bob had left a wife, Rita, and four children. However, there were several other women with children in different parts of the globe, who all made claims on the estate. Fortunately for them, the law in Jamaica had been changed to provide that children born out of wedlock are included as beneficiaries in the administration of an intestate estate.

Several other persons made claims. A man who called himself John was very persistent in stating that he knew that his mother had an affair with Marley. Eventually he was requested to submit a copy of his birth certificate. He did so and it clearly showed that he was older than Bob Marley. Another gentleman called Danny Simms claimed that he had a contract which entitled him to royalties and payment for works produced by Bob. He said he had discovered that Marley had produced songs and lyrics and had deprived him of his entitlement by registering them in the names of other persons. He brought an action in New York against the estate.

In investigating the matter, it turned out that there was a period when the songs Marley wrote were not put in his name. A classical example is the famous No woman, No cry. The record label purports the song to be written by Vincent Ford who, it was later learnt, was a disabled person from Trench Town. During the hearing in New York, it was shown that Simms was apparently aware of this alleged irregularity long before Marley's death and therefore his claim had been statute barred.

In selling the assets of the estate some of the persons whose names Marley had used in registering songs had to be paid. Vincent Ford received some compensation to assign the copyright in the song so that it could be sold. After many years, there are still some dissatisfied beneficiaries in the United States, endeavouring to reopen aspects of the estate and have gone to the Courts to get access to documents.
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1 comment:

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