Is Someone Trying to Steal Graceland?

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Earlier this week, Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough sued to block a foreclosure sale of Graceland, CNN has reported. According to Keough’s suit, documents that purport to show the Memphis home was collateral for a loan taken out by Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’s sole heir and Keough’s mother, are fraudulent: “Lisa Marie Presley never borrowed money from Naussany Investments and never gave a deed of trust encumbering Graceland as security.” The foreclosure sale, which has been temporarily halted, was scheduled for later this week and appears to be a case of deed theft, with an LLC named Naussany Investments & Private Lending attempting to take advantage of Lisa Marie’s death early last year.

Older homeowners are often the targets of deed theft but generally not celebrity homeowners with lawyers on retainer. The swindle frequently involves someone promising to pay off the mortgage in exchange for the owner signing over the house at a fire-sale price. (The people behind this type of fraud tend to go after older homeowners of color, often in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, who may be house rich but cash poor.) As soon as documents are signed and the deed is filed with the city, the “buyer” disappears and the owner is left with their debt but no house. Some scammers take a more direct route, filing forged documents directly with the city and banking on the fact that no one will notice until it’s too late.

As CNN reported, last year an LLC (Naussany Investments & Private Lending) presented documents “purporting to show that Lisa Marie Presley had borrowed $3.8 million from Naussany Investments” using Graceland as security. But Keough’s lawyers claim the documents are fraudulent, that Lisa Marie never borrowed the money or put the famous home up as collateral. There’s a lot more at stake than $3.8 million: Graceland is the second-most-visited home in the U.S. after the White House and makes up a big chunk of Elvis’s estate, which is said to be worth hundreds of millions. Lisa Marie’s 2022 divorce filings show she earned seven figures from it annually.

A Florida notary whose name is on the loan paperwork said she “never met Lisa Marie Presley nor notarized any document for her,” according to court documents cited by the news site, which was not able to contact the company. An email message to the LLC received an auto-reply that no one would be in the office for the next week, the phone number was out of service, and the state of Missouri, where Nassany is allegedly located, has no record of such a business. Keough’s lawyers claim the company doesn’t exist.

Elvis Presley Enterprises, which manages the Presley estate, also called the foreclosure a con. “Elvis Presley Enterprises can confirm that these claims are fraudulent,” the company said in a statement to CNN. “There is no foreclosure sale. Simply put, the counter lawsuit that has been filed is to stop the fraud.”

Deed theft is reportedly on the rise, with its practitioners, often LLCs that are difficult to prosecute, growing increasingly brazen. A few years ago, The New York Times reported on a landlord who had built a real-estate empire by allegedly stealing at least 17 properties, according to prosecutors and homeowners (he even collected rent money from city agencies at several of them, through housing-subsidy programs). More recently, a grifter managed to briefly take possession of the New Yorker Hotel in midtown. After staying a night in the hotel, he used an obscure housing law and a court judgment in his favor to convince the city’s finance department to transfer the deed to his name. But the attempt to seize Graceland may be the ballsiest, highest-profile attempt so far. If only everyone had the Elvis estate’s lawyers on their side.

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