JAMES BROWN’s unburied body and fortune remain in limbo as relatives battle for a piece of The Godfather of Soul!
James Brown has been dead for nearly five years, but the battle over his $100 million fortune has grown so heated it’s the subject of a PBS TV special aimed at teaching people what NOT to do to protect their estates!
“This is the most screwed up thing I have ever experienced in my entire life,” James’ longtime attorney and friend Alfred “Buddy” Dallas told The ENQUIRER.
“How can a man pay a lawyer $20,000 to set up his estate plan and then have a court just ignore what the man did?” lamented Dallas, an Augusta, Ga., lawyer who was with the “I Feel Good” singer when he wrote his will.
According to Dallas, James summoned a group of people to his office in 1999, including a court stenographer and a videographer.
“He said, ‘I have prayed about this repeatedly, and I’ve been given so much that I must give it back, and I’ve chosen to give it back to needy children.’ He then said, ‘And I’m not going to sign the will today.’”
According to Dallas, the will was finally signed on Aug. 1, 2000, in front of a few of the performer’s seven children and his fourth wife, 42-year-old Tomi Rae Hynie.
James reiterated his plans shortly before he died on Christmas Day 2006 at the age of 73, added the attorney. Yet less than a month after his death, James’ children and Tomi Rae contested the will in a South Carolina court.
The litigation that followed involved so many attorneys and became so complicated that, in 2009, a South Carolina judge split the estate between the trust and the family.
The judge also decided that James’ body – which has been interred in a temporary crypt on his daughter Deanna’s Beech Island, S.C, property – should be moved to a place that will draw millions of visitors and make a fortune.
That settlement was denounced not only by Dallas, but also by former producer Jacque Hollander, who says James wanted her to oversee the trust intended to benefit poor and needy children in Georgia and South Carolina.
At this point, however, no one has seen a penny of the estimated $100 million estate – neither the area’s needy children nor the singer’s family.
And his body is still in the crypt at his daughter’s property.
Russell Bauknight, the current court-appointed trustee of the James Brown estate, told The ENQUIRER that he regards the matter as having been settled. Bauknight said he’ll be able to reveal more information about the settlement – and James’ final resting place – in the fall.