Throughout his too-short life, Prince was legendary not only for this talent, but for his productivity; he not only released a staggering 40 studio albums over the course of his 37-year career (including several multi-record sets), but left scores of recorded but unreleased songs in the Paisley Park vaults. The question of those abandoned recordings became even more pressing after the artist’s untimely death last year – would they ever seen the light of day, since there would be no new Prince songs?
Now, their very durability has come into doubt, thanks to court documents in the complex (and ugly) battle between Prince’s heirs and Comerica Bank & Trust, which was appointed to manage his assets. According to Variety :
The description of the state of Prince’s vault, which was at the center of the $31 million deal with UMG, is unflattering. “In March 2017, the Personal Representative began the inventory process on-site at Paisley Park,” the document reads. “During the inventory process, the Personal Representative discovered several circumstances that caused it concern regarding the safety and longevity of the Estate’s assets at Paisley Park.” The first three items are redacted, but the fourth and fifth read: “None of the spaces being used for storage … have climate control systems sufficient to preserve audio and video material. During its inventory, the Personal Representative discovered several indications of damage and degradation due to poor humidity and temperature controls. It encountered cardboard boxes that were adhered to shelves and had to be peeled off, mold and water damage on the materials, rusting film canisters, degrading film that smelled of vinegar (a sign of acetate degradation), and evidence of water intrusion on walls and ceilings in the vault and elsewhere.
The parties involved are trading accusations and allegations, but there appears to be no argument about the condition of the vault; in a statement to Variety, Prince’s half-sister Sharon Nelson writes, “This is not a ‘learn on the fly’ project and this estate is not like managing a new artist either. Paisley Park housed the vault for over 40 years and any needs to repair it should have been a priority.” So yeah, hopefully one of the most important musical archives of our time isn’t in a complete state of ruin?
Read more about the complicated battle here.