A judge blocks the foreclosure sale of Elvis’ Graceland, after his heir alleges fraud

By Rachel Treisman (NPR)
May 22, 2024 6:03 p.m.

Updated May 22, 2024 at 12:00 PM ET

A judge in Tennessee has blocked a foreclosure sale of Elvis Presley's Graceland compound, after his granddaughter sued to stop it.


A company called Naussany Investments & Private Lending LLC advertised that such a sale would take place on Thursday, saying the trust that controls Graceland owed the property as collateral after failing to repay a 2018 loan taken out by Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis' only child.

Actress Danielle Riley Keough, who goes by Riley, became the owner of the Memphis property after her mother's death in January 2023. She alleged in a lawsuit earlier this month that Naussany Investments not only forged documents, but doesn't actually exist.

The 61-page complaint 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.

Shelby County Chancellor JoeDae Jenkins sided with Keough after a hearing on Wednesday.

The Associated Press reports that he issued a temporary injunction to block the sale, essentially extending a restraining order he had placed on Naussany Investments last week.

Jenkins said in court that it would be prudent to delay any foreclosure sale of Graceland, given its prominence.

"The public interest is best served, particularly here in Shelby County, for Graceland is a part of this community, well loved by this community and, indeed, around the world," Jenkins said, according to NBC News.

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.

Jenkins also said that Keough will likely succeed in her lawsuit, "provided that you prove the fraud that has been alleged."

Keough was not present on Wednesday, and her lawyers declined to comment on ongoing litigation. Naussany Investments did not have representation in court, according to multiple media outlets.

Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE), the company that manages the late singer's estate, told NPR via email that "there will be no foreclosure."

"As the court has now made clear, there was no validity to the claims," it said. "Graceland will continue to operate as it has for the past 42 years, ensuring that Elvis fans from around the world can continue to have a best in class experience when visiting his iconic home."

Riley Keough, pictured at the Met Gala earlier this month, is fighting a foreclosure sale of Graceland.

Riley Keough, pictured at the Met Gala earlier this month, is fighting a foreclosure sale of Graceland.

Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

Keough is accusing the company of forging documents

The lawsuit names as defendants both the LLC and 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. EPE said in an emailed statement that any outside claims to the Graceland property "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!"

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 said it would hold 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, arguing that the company has "no right whatsoever" to conduct the sale, asked the court to issue an injunction permanently blocking the sale and declare that the note and deed of trust are fraudulent (and therefore unenforceable).

Last week, the judge issued a restraining order that prohibits the company, defendant Kurt Naussany "or any party acting in concert with either of them" from conducting a sale ahead of Wednesday's hearing.

Visitors line up to enter the Graceland mansion in 2017, 40 years after Elvis' death.

Visitors line up to enter the Graceland mansion in 2017, 40 years after Elvis' death.

Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images

Elvis' home base is now a major tourist draw

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.”