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Is Elvis' Graceland actually up for sale? His granddaughter, alleging fraud, says no

Elvis Presley's granddaughter is suing to stop the planned foreclosure sale of his compound Graceland, alleging that the company involved not only forged documents, but doesn't actually exist.

Actress Danielle Riley Keough became the owner of the Memphis property following the death of her mother — and Elvis' only child — Lisa Marie Presley in January 2023.

The 14-acre compound is a popular tourist destination as well as the final resting place of several of Keough's family members, including Elvis and his parents, as well as her own mother and brother.

Keough, who goes by Riley, filed a complaint last week in a Tennessee civil court seeking to block the sale, which she says a company called Naussany Investments & Private Lending LLC has advertised and scheduled for Thursday.

The 61-page document says that in September 2023, the company "presented documents purporting to show that Lisa Marie Presley had borrowed $3.8 million from Naussany Investments and gave a deed of trust encumbering Graceland as security."

But Keough says Presley never borrowed money from or gave a deed of trust — for Graceland or any other property — to Naussany Investments, alleging "these documents are fraudulent." Moreover, the lawsuit argues that Naussany Investments "is not a real entity" at all.

"Naussany Investments & Private Lending LLC appears to be a false entity created for the purpose of defrauding the Promenade Trust, the heirs of Lisa Marie Presley, or any purchaser of Graceland at a non-judicial sale," it reads.

The lawsuit names as defendants both the LLC and an individual identified as Kurt Naussany, whom it says has acted on the company's behalf by sending Keough's lawyers "numerous emails seeking to collect the purported $3.8 million debt and threatening to conduct a non-judicial sale of Graceland."

Emails NPR sent to several addresses linked to the company have not been returned, and a Naussany phone number listed in the legal filing is out of service.

Adding to the intrigue, Kurt Naussany told NBC News via email that "he left the firm in 2015 and should not be named in the filing" — though one of the exhibits attached to the complaint shows a signed email he purportedly sent in 2023.

A lawyer for Keough told NPR he could not comment on pending litigation. But Elvis Presley Enterprises, the company that manages the late singer's estate, said via email that "these claims are fraudulent."

"There is no foreclosure sale," it said. "Simply put, the counter lawsuit [that] has been filed is to stop the fraud."

Priscilla Presley — Elvis' ex-wife and Lisa Marie's mother — also refuted claims of a foreclosure sale on her social media accounts on Monday. She shared a picture of the front of the Graceland mansion, covered by animated red text reading: "It's a scam!"

Court documents obtained by NPR show that the Shelby County Chancery Court will hold a hearing on the injunction at 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday.

It also issued a restraining order that prohibits Naussany Investments, Kurt Naussany "or any party acting in concert with either of them" from conducting any such sale of the property in the meantime.

Keough is accusing the company of forging documents

Riley Keough, pictured at the Met Gala earlier this month, is fighting a foreclosure sale of Graceland.
Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
Riley Keough, pictured at the Met Gala earlier this month, is fighting a foreclosure sale of Graceland.

The lawsuit alleges that the documents purporting to show the loan and deed of trust at issue are "forgeries."

"While the documents bear signatures that look like the signatures of Lisa Marie Presley, Lisa Marie Presley did not in fact sign the documents," it says.

And it points to two clues that further suggest they are fake.

The documents were supposedly acknowledged before a notary public — an officer appointed by the state to witness such transactions — named Kimberly Philbrick in Duval County, Fla., in May 2018, according to the lawsuit.

The notarial acknowledgment on one of the documents includes language saying it was acknowledged before the notary "by means of ( ) physical presence or ( ) online notarization," with the option to check either. But online notarization — and therefore, the language mentioning it — wasn't authorized in Florida until 2020.

Secondly, Philbrick herself says she did not notarize either of the documents. She swore as much in an affidavit signed earlier this month, which was submitted alongside the complaint.

"I have never met Lisa Marie Presley, nor have I ever notarized a document signed by Lisa Marie Presley," she wrote. "I do not know why my signature appears on this document."

Another attachment shows Naussany Investment's notice of the foreclosure sale, published online on May 12, on the grounds that the loan using Graceland as collateral was not repaid.

It says it is authorized — and plans — to hold a public auction outside the Shelby County Courthouse at 11 a.m. on May 23, and sell the property to the "highest and best bidder for cash."

Keough argues that Naussany Investments has "no right whatsoever" to conduct that sale.

She is asking the court to issue an injunction permanently blocking the sale, declare that the note and deed of trust are fraudulent (and therefore unenforceable) and grant her "such other relief" to which she might be entitled.

Elvis' home base is now a major tourist draw

Visitors line up to enter the Graceland mansion in 2017, 40 years after Elvis' death.
Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
Visitors line up to enter the Graceland mansion in 2017, 40 years after Elvis' death.

Graceland started as part of a cattle farm. Elvis bought the grounds and existing mansion for $102,500 in March 1957. Its worth was estimated between $400 million and $500 million as of 2020.

Elvis moved in later in 1957, after he finished filming "Jailhouse Rock." He would go on to expand the mansion to 17,552 square feet, adding fixtures like the kidney-shaped swimming pool and sheet music-styled gates.

Graceland remained his home base for the next two decades, until he died there in August 1977.

The estate then went to Elvis' dad, Vernon Presley, and subsequently to Lisa Marie upon her 25th birthday in 1993. Keough officially became the owner in August 2023, after a months-long legal dispute with her grandmother over her mother's will.

Graceland has been open to the public since 1982, and has expanded over the years to include a hotel, several museums, restaurants and an entertainment complex, among other attractions.

It employs hundreds of workers and draws upwards of 500,000 visitors annually, according to the venue, which calls itself the "most famous home in America after the White House."

Graceland joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1991, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006, becoming the first rock-n-roll site to be named to both lists.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.