Elvis Presley’s Estate Sues the Westgate Resort for Memorabilia in Closed Exhibit
The estate of Elvis Presley filed a lawsuit against the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino on Monday. Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. filed the suit against the Westgate, because the resort holds Elvis memorabilia, including outfits, jewelry, and letters.
The estate said it allowed the casino to borrow hundreds of Elvis Presley “artifacts”, including stage outfits and costume jewelry he wore in Las Vegas shows. The estate also let the Westgate display letters and a high school yearbook which belonged to the King of Rock-n-Roll.
“Graceland Presents Elvis” Exhibit
Various pieces of memorabilia included items from Elvis’s wedding, as well as domestic items he kept in his home. The pieces were part of an “Graceland Presents Elvis” exhibit, which ran until last month. The exhibit continued with a museum exhibit, wedding chapel, and theater.
When the exhibit was shut down abruptly last month by Exhibit A Circle, the Westgate simply took control of the items, refusing to give them back. The Elvis estate said the items are being held hostage by the Westgate in an ongoing leasing dispute with Exhibit A Circle.
Estate Lost Contact with the Items
The lawsuit states that the estate had an agreement which let it monitor the memorabilia 24 hours a day through a video camera. The video surveillance has been cut off, so the estate has no idea what has happened to the items.
Now, Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. is asking for the items to be returned to it. The lawsuit also asks for damages in the case. A spokesman for Elvis Presley Enterprises said the Westgate “aggressively” seized the exhibit items, but declined to elaborate on the case.
Mark Waltrip Declines Comment
Mark Waltrip, the chief operating officer for the Westgate, also declined to give a statement on the case. The lawsuit filed Monday is not associated with the ongoing lawsuit between Westgate and Exhibit A Circle.
Despite the two lawsuits having no direct relation, the manager of Exhibit A Circle also serves as the managing partner for Elvis Presley Entertprises. Thus, the Elvis estate is likely to argue that the Westgate resort seized the items in order to put pressure on Exhibit A Circle to settle the other lawsuit.
Claims Exhibit A Circle Defaulted on Lease
For their part, Westgate claims in the other lawsuit that Exhibit A Circle defaulted on its 10-year lease. Exhibit A Circle denies that it broke the terms of the lease, but instead claims the Westgate broke the contract first.
Because the Off-the-Strip Las Vegas casino spent millions of dollars outfitting the display, it wants to recoup the money it invested in the ongoing show. Mark Waltrip said that the Westgate wants to reach an amicable split with all parties.
About Elvis’s Estate
Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. manages the Graceland attraction in Memphis, Tennessee, as well as many other moneymaking ventures for the estate. Graceland is entering its 34th year in operation. The old home of Elvis Presley is said to generate $32 million a year in tourist revenues. The home itself is said to be worth $55 million.
Of course, the landmark that is Elvis’s home is only a part of the wealth-generating estate. Royalties from his songs and sales of his merchandise also generate money for the estate. Few other pop culture figures have so much cachet with the American people than Elvis Presley, event nearly 40 years after his death. The entire Elvis estate generated $49 million in 2013.
About the Westgate SuperBook
Though the Westgate Las Vegas Resort is not on the Las Vegas Strip, it is considered one of the major resorts in Las Vegas, due to its sportbooks. The Westgate SuperBook is the largest and most luxurious sportsbook in Las Vegas. Whenever journalists who follow sports betting need a quote, they got to the Westgate (or William Hill).
The casino is less well known than the sportsbook, but like other Las Vegas casinos, it likes to put on shows and exhibits to attract tourists and gamblers. Because of Elvis Presley’s association with Las Vegas, an Elvis exhibit should have been a successful attraction.
About Elvis Presley
Those in the younger generation might not know it, but Elvis Presley’s connection with Sin City was profound — much more than singing “Viva La Vegas”. Though he was the biggest name in rock-n-roll in the 1950s, the popularity of The Beatles in the 1960s outstripped Elvis’s. Though he still had an acting career, Elvis was seen by the youth of the Sixties as outmoded, and some even saw him as a has-been.
He became an attraction in Las Vegas in those years, before making a comeback with his closed-circuit concert broadcast, Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite, which was broadcast worldwide to an estimated 1 billion to 1.5 billion people worldwide, including China.
Dressed in a Las Vegas-era outfit, backed by some of the most talented collections of musicians in the world, and channeling the natural charisma few other performers have ever possessed, Elvis began the final phase of his life, where he was seen as a true American treasure and a piece of living Americana. Since he died, his popularity has seemed to grow.
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