Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Graceland to be "Overhauled"

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2007 at 4:00 AM

AP: The thousands of Elvis Presley fans descending on Memphis for the 30th anniversary of his death August 16 won't see much sign of it, but plans are moving along for big-time changes at Graceland.

Managers of Presley's famous home want to overhaul its tourist complex -- with a new visitors center bigger than a football field, a convention hotel, and high-tech museum displays that can give a new, digital life to the King himself.

All it will take to bring about those wonders is $250 million or so; the total reorganization of CKX Inc., the New York-based company that controls all things Elvis; and a publicly supported facelift for Graceland's struggling neighborhood.

The obstacles are far from small, but the people behind the plans, led by CKX Chairman Robert F.X. Sillerman, have a history of putting together big deals and making money for investors.

Sillerman, a multimillionaire dealer in media and entertainment assets, took over Graceland in 2005 when he bought the rights to Elvis' name and image from daughter Lisa Marie, Presley's sole heir.

When Presley died, his finances were in sad shape. Led by Priscilla Presley, the estate formed Elvis Presley Enterprises, opened Graceland to the public and solidified the legal rights to make money on Elvis' name and image.

Last year, Graceland made $27 million, and the overall Elvis business brings in more than $40 million a year. That made him the second-highest grossing dead celebrity in 2006, behind only Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, according to Forbes.

More here.

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