On January 10, 2016, the world lost a music icon. David Robert Jones, also known as David Bowie, passed away from liver cancer just two days after his newest album, “Blackstar“, was released. Bowie’s legacy will always be remembered through his music, but what most people do not know, is that Bowie was also an estate planning genius.
In the 1970s & 80s, Bowie suffered hard financial times. It was even reported that Bowie was on the verge of Bankruptcy. In 1997, As Bowie was contemplating his financial options, he met with investment banker David Pullman who turned him on to an amazing idea.
Pullman convinced Bowie to sell a stake in his music, but only for a short time. Pullman helped Bowie create “Bowie Bonds,” whereby Bowie sold rights to his music for a 10-year period for $55 million, and Bowie promised a fixed-rate of return of 7.9%. The Bowie Bonds were secured though Bowie’s royalties and copyrights of his own music. Prudential Insurance Company purchased the bonds and was paid in full during the 10-year time frame. In 2007, Bowie retained the rights to all of his own music.
The amazing thing about Bowie’s revolutionary estate planning move related to Bowie’s motives. In a recent interview, Mr. Pullman emphasized the fact that Bowie created these bonds, not for his own benefit, but to ensure that his wife, Iman, and his two children would be set for the rest of their lives.
Bowie’s current estate is thought to be worth more than $200 million (although a recent estimate put it closer to $100 million), with almost half of his estate going to his wife Iman, almost half to his children, and a few specific bequests to friends. It appears Bowie used a Will and not a Revocable Living Trust in his estate plan, but this could change as we learn more about Bowie’s plan. Either way, Bowie used powerful planning strategies to save his family from the verge of financial ruin.