Will You Still Steal Me, When I’m 64.

Yes, today marks the 64th birthday of the late Jimi Hendrix.  Is there any better way to close off a day at the Supreme Court hearing on the KSR v. Teleflex obviousness case, than to Metroliner to Manhattan for tonite’s tribute concert at B.B. King’s.

Let’s mark the birthday too with a note about USDJ Kaplan’s recent decision in Experience Hendrix v. Chalpin, over the auction at Ocean Tomo of the masters of the Hendrix discography.  I recall generally, but not the specific figure of, the balance that Jimi had in his bank account on the date of his death.  In the Hendrix memorabilia, once displayed at the R&R Hall of Fame, was that bank statement, and his closing balance was something on the order of $1200.  Whatever that sum, it is miniscule compared to what others have earned from Hendrix’ body of work.

The case against Chalpin arose from a 1965 “one-page recording agreement,” and a 1973 consent decree in the High Court of London, by which certain “master recordings” were to be surrendered to the Hendrix estate, along with a large royalty payment.  The decree became a domesticated judgment in New York Supreme, but the royalty never could be collected. 

When Ocean Tomo offered the works for auction, Experience Hendrix sued and sought a TRO and order of attachment.  The auction proceeded, and someone bid $15M for one of the three lots offered. 

Judge Kaplan’s decision contains many stinging passages, aimed at one who sounds like the stereotype shady “agent” for entertainers.  In his dealings with other performers, Mr. “Chalpin used shell companies in the past to avoid payment obligations.  Chalpin’s testimony about a “great many … matters was vague, punctuated by protestations of lack of memory, and internally inconsistent.”  His sworn “testimony does not inspire confidence” and the Court found that Chalpin had “deliberately and knowingly testified evasively in order to conceal the truth.”   It thus was no surprise that an attachment and injunction were ordered.  In all, the case and its participants reprised their homage to the ring cycle of money corrupting art, until the artist is left with none.  Only the artist’s songs remain uncorrupted.

“The angels will spread their wings, spread their wings
Good and evil lay side by side while electric love penetrates the sky.” 
RIP- Jimi Hendrix