Authentic Brands Group Buys Elvis, Ali Trademarks

The company, which already owns the Marilyn Monroe label, continues to bolster its celebrity roster.

Authentic Brands Group continues to collect icons.

This story first appeared in the November 20, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

On Tuesday, the company revealed that it had bolstered its celebrity roster by acquiring the intellectual property of Elvis Presley and Graceland as well as Muhammad Ali to add to the Marilyn Monroe label it already owns.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

ABG acquired the assets from CORE Media Group and will own and manage the Elvis Presley brand with the Presley family and Joel Weinshanker, chairman and founder of National Entertainment Collectibles Association. The Ali brand will be managed in conjunction with the boxer’s family as well as Weinshanker.

Nick Woodhouse, president of ABG, said: “We have the sexiest woman of all time, now we have the undisputed Greatest of All Time and the King of Rock ’n’ Roll.”

He said CORE was “much further along” with its branding efforts for Presley and Ali than the former owners of the Marilyn Monroe estate, “so we believe we can dovetail nicely onto the existing business.” He said ABG expects to sign its first licenses for the brands “within 14 days.

“But they’ll be strategic partners,” he stressed, approved by Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, the late singer’s former wife and daughter, as well as Lonnie Ali, the athlete’s wife. The first product from these strategic licensing partners will hit the market within three to nine months and will run the gamut from apparel to collectibles.

“We have a lot of licensees who are very interested in being endorsers of the brands,” Woodhouse said.

Under the terms of the deal, Lisa Marie Presley will continue to own Graceland and its artifacts, but will work with ABG on the “licensing and merchandising aspect of this business,” she said. Weinshanker has acquired the rights to manage the operations of Graceland, Presley’s home in Memphis, along with ABG and the Presley family. Graceland attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year, Woodhouse said, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, which opens up a whole other avenue of growth for the brand.

ABG in turn will assume the global rights to a library of Presley’s photographic imagery, including artwork, album covers and movie posters; video and audio assets, including television appearances and music specials; his name and likeness; and other assets, including the rights to major Elvis-themed events such as Elvis Week, an international celebration of Elvis’ life and legacy.

ABG also acquired the global rights to Ali’s photographic images as well as movies and videos, his name and likeness and trademark phrases such as: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” and “The Greatest of All Time.”

Woodhouse said this is the first time ABG has partnered with a living celebrity.

ABG, which is backed by Leonard Green & Partners, also owns the rights to Juicy Couture, Judith Leiber, Adrienne Vittadini, Hickey Freeman, Hart Schaffner Marx, Spyder and Prince, and has been aggressively purchasing brands to exploit under its licensing model.