Chris Cornell’s widow files new lawsuit against remaining Soundgarden members over buyout price

Posted by on February 18, 2021


A new lawsuit has been filed against the remaining members of Soundgarden by late frontman Chris Cornell’s widow Vicky concerning a buyout price for her stake in the band. 

According to TMZ, Vicky is suing guitarist Kim Thayil, drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Hunter Benedict Shepherd over an alleged lowball buyout offer. She claims that the band members offered her $300,000 for her stake, less than what she made from her share of the band’s royalties in 2018. She said that the number didn’t make sense because the band had entertained a $16 million deal with an outside party that would have made each of them $4 million. Vicky is looking for the court to value the band’s assets. 

“The band members have knowingly offered only an infinitesimal fraction of the true worth of Chris‘ interest in Soundgarden and certain related entities by making a ludicrously low offer. And, they know it,” reads court documents from the filing, obtained by Blabbermouth Wednesday afternoon. “Before making their absurd offer, Soundgarden had previously received an independent third-party offer from a leading music investor for multi-millions more (even though that offer covered only recorded music and did not include any other Soundgarden assets).”

It continues:

“Despite having this offer in hand, the band members offered Chris‘ wife and minor children a pittance. In fact, the band’s offer is so low that it even falls shy of the royalties that Vicky received for a single year (2018) from a single revenue source (Soundgarden‘s master recordings).”

A representative for the band responded to TMZ about the case, telling the site, 

“As requested by the Estate of Chris Cornell and as required by the laws of the State of Washington, the surviving members of Soundgarden submitted to the Cornell Estate four months ago a buy-out offer of the Estate’s interests in Soundgarden calculated by respected music industry valuation expert Gary Cohen.”

“Since then, the band members have continued to try to settle all disputes with the Cornell Estate and in their several attempts to settle, the band members have elected to offer multiple times more than the amount calculated by Cohen.”

“This dispute has never been about money for the band. This is their life’s work and their legacy.”

Vicky also claims in the suit that the remaining members’ unreasonableness was underlined when she countered their offer with her own, higher offers for their shares of the band’s assets. Thayil, Cameron and Shepherd had rejected her bids because they didn’t want to give up the rights to their “life’s work” (which she tries to claim is not really their “life’s work” because two members weren’t there from the beginning and no one wrote as much of the music as Cornell). Read the court documents:

“In response to Defendants’ disingenuous offer, on December 17, 2020, Vicky counter-offered defendants Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron, Hunter Benedict Shepherd four million dollars each — a total of twelve-million dollars (U.S. $12,000,000.00) — for their collective interests in Soundgarden and the Soundgarden Related Entities.”

“On December 29, 2020, Defendants summarily rejected Vicky‘s twelve-million dollar offer, noting that the Surviving Band Members have no interest in selling their interests in the Soundgarden Partnership ‘because these interests represent their creative life’s-work’ — a statement that both overreaches (because neither Cameron nor Shepherd were original members of Soundgarden) and overlooks (because the vast majority of the band’s works — over 73% — were authored by Chris and because Chris‘ interest in the Soundgarden Partnership also represents Chris‘ ‘creative life’s work’).”

“In a final attempt to resolve this matter without judicial intervention (and without the need for yet another litigation), Vicky offered the Surviving Band Members seven million dollars each — a total of twenty-one million dollars ($21,000,000.00) — for their collective interests in the Soundgarden Partnership. Moreover, Vicky‘s offer expressly noted that, if the Surviving Band Members were willing to share the underlying information, her twenty-one million dollar offer may well increase further. The Surviving Band Members rejected the twenty-one million dollar offer and, once more, refused to share the underlying data.”

“The Surviving Band Members’ rejection of an offer of seven million dollars for each of their individual interests underscores the unreasonableness of Defendants’ insulting offer for Chris‘ interests in the Soundgarden Partnership.”

Vicky Cornell and the remaining members of Soundgarden have been going back and forth in court for more than a year. Back in December 2019, Vicky sued the band over royalties she claimed were being withheld while trying to gain access to seven unreleased recordings on Cornell’s laptop she said were solo pieces. The band filed their own motion in February 2020, claiming that the recordings were supposed to be for an upcoming Soundgarden album that they had been working on together since 2014. Then in May, the band filed a countersuit with new claims regarding the usage of funds from a January 2019 tribute show, as well as claims that Vicky misrepresented the band on social media. The benefit concert claims were dropped in July after Vicky’s lawyer filed a motion for sanctions against the band.

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