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Motown Records Wins Rights to Singer’s Life Story

August 30, 1985

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Motown Records successfully outbid a New York businessman Thursday for television and film rights to the life story of slain soul singer Marvin Gaye.

The Detroit-based record company agreed to pay the Gaye estate, which has $9.2 million in claims against it, an option package worth more than $101,000 during a tense bidding session in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Attorneys for the estate turned down a larger offer from businessman Richard Pollack, citing the record company’s experience in motion picture production.

Under the deal, Motown will pay $46,000 on an 18-month option on rights to produce a film about the singer, $5,000 to extend the option for six months, $50,000 if it fails to make the film within two years, and 2.5 percent of the profits if it is made.

The 44-year-old Gaye, whose 23 years as a recording artist included the songs ″I Heard It Through the Grapevine,″ ″Sexual Healing″ and ″What’s Going On,″ was shot to death by his father following an argument on April 1, 1984 at the family’s Los Angeles home.

His father pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and is currently on probation.

Superior Court Judge Billy Mills established the auction after creditors, which include the U.S. government, complained a previous Motown contract for the rights was unacceptable. That basic agreement was worth $65,000.

″I knew we could get more from Motown but after talking to them, they refused to budge from their offer,″ said Jeffrey Glassman, the attorney for the estate.

Motown representative Elliott Chaum said Motown owned the rights to much of Gaye’s music and probably would not have sold those rights to Pollack if he had won the biddingtory.

″I was glad to see the money go into the estate,″ she said. ″Motown will do a good job. I know they will do a super job for a superstar.″