The San Juan Daily Star
Lisa Marie Presley was rock ’n’ roll royalty. Graceland was her castle.
Elvis Presley’s home at Graceland, in Memphis, Tenn., Feb. 28, 2006. Lisa Marie Presley, who died suddenly on Jan. 12, 2023, had visited the estate four days earlier to celebrate what would have been her father’s 88th birthday.
By DEBRA KAMIN
When Elvis Presley died in 1977, Lisa Marie Presley, his only child, inherited Graceland — an eight-bedroom, eight-bath Colonial revival house in Memphis, Tennessee, that became one of the most iconic pieces of real estate in American music history.
Graceland was the personal home of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll from 1957 until his death at the age of 42. For Lisa Marie Presley, rock ’n’ roll royalty who died Thursday in Los Angeles, Graceland was the castle where she spent holidays with her father, and notoriously had full daytime reign of its grand, chandelier-lit rooms while her night owl father slept.
She was back at Graceland just four days before her death — visiting the estate Sunday to celebrate what would have been her father’s 88th birthday. On Thursday, after what her family has described as a “medical emergency,” she was rushed from her home in Calabasas, California, to a Los Angeles hospital and, shortly after, was pronounced dead. She was 54.
Only 9 years old when her father died, Presley, a singer-songwriter in her own right who never escaped her late father’s shadow, assumed full control of her trust in 1993, on her 25th birthday. This included Graceland, as well as its eponymous 13.8-acre estate.
It became her life’s work through tumult and loss. Even as she stared down financial ruin, she held onto the estate.
She tapped her business manager Barry Siegel to manage the trust’s assets — a move, she would say, that triggered an avalanche of debt and devastation. In 2005, Siegel sold an 85% stake in the Elvis Presley Estate. The stake included Elvis’ intellectul property, his image, likeness and the right to operate Graceland as a tourist attraction.
But the white-columned mansion remained hers.
The Elvis Presley Estate would go on to change hands again and is currently owned by Authentic Brands Group, a New York-based company that also owns the intellectual property for Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali. Even as Authentic Brands took control in 2013, Presley released a statement reasserting her ownership of the house itself.
“The licensing and merchandising aspect of this business is not to be confused with the fact that the property will always remain with me and my family. However, this is a great partnership for our family and Elvis fans worldwide,” she said at the time.
Authentic Brands and Joel Weinshanker, founder and CEO of National Entertainment Collectibles Association, now manage the estate through an entity called Elvis Presley Enterprises.
Reached by phone Friday, Weinshanker noted how important Graceland mansion was to Lisa Marie Presley.
“Elvis lived in many places, but Graceland was always his home, and Lisa felt the same way,” he said. “At times of difficulty, she slept in his bedroom. Twenty-five million people have visited Graceland, but it was always only home to one person, and that was Lisa.”
In holding on to the home and grounds, she also held onto the final resting place of her closest family members. Elvis Presley, who died in a bathroom in Graceland, is buried on the estate, as is her son, Benjamin Keough, who died by suicide in 2020.
She is survived by her mother, Priscilla, and three daughters: actress Riley Keough, 33, whose father was Presley’s first husband, Danny Keough; and twin 14-year-old daughters, Harper Lockwood and Finley Lockwood, whom she shared with her fourth husband, guitarist Michael Lockwood.
The daughters will now inherit the mansion and its grounds, Elvis Presley Enterprises confirmed.
“The home itself, the mansion, was owned by Lisa. Even though we have a deal where we manage it and take care of it, that will stay with the trust,” Weinshanker said. “That trust will pass to Riley, Finley and Harper. And Harper and Finley are minors, so at the end of the day, the trust will be run by Riley.”
In 2003, in an interview with Playboy, Lisa Marie Presley joked that when she died, she would inevitably be buried at Graceland herself. And on Friday, a representative for Riley Keough confirmed that she would, indeed, be laid to rest on the mansion’s grounds, alongside her son, Ben.
“I don’t plan on anything. I’m sure I’ll end up there. Or I’ll shrink my head and put it in a glass box in the living room,” she said in the interview. “I’ll get more tourists to Graceland that way.”