Chris Cornell's Widow Vicky Sues Soundgarden Over 'Ludicrously Low' $300k Buyout Offer
On Wednesday, Vicky — who previously sued the band in 2019 over royalties and the rights to seven unreleased songs — filed a new lawsuit seeking a judicial valuation of Chris' interest in the band, as well as its related properties, after she was offered a $300,000 buyout, which she considers "ludicrously low."
In the complaint, which was obtained by PEOPLE, Vicky claims that Chris' bandmates Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Hunter Benedict Shepherd "knowingly offered only an infinitesimal fraction of the true worth of Chris' interest in Soundgarden and certain related entities" when she demanded a buyout last July. The $300,000 offer they made that October, she claims, "is so low that it even falls shy of the royalties" that she received for a single year (2018) from Soundgarden's master recordings.
Vicky also claims that before they made her the buyout offer, the band received an independent third-party offer of $16 million for their recorded music from a "leading music investor." Additionally, she says they've "steadfastly refused requests" for information "to support their preposterous offer."
"Defendants' buyout offer ascribed little to zero value to future merchandise and tour earnings despite the increase of widespread public interest in the Band since Chris' passing, as is often the case when a musician of Chris' iconic stature passes away," she added. "A good-faith valuation would account for the significant revenues to be earned from the Band's merchandise sales and account for the lucrative, nostalgia-fueled projects that follow the passing of rock and roll icons."
In response to the $300,000 offer, Vicky says she counter-offered the band $4 million each in December for their collective interests in Soundgarden and its related properties. Days later, the band rejected Vicky's offer, saying that they did not want to sell their interests because they "represent their creative life's-work."
Vicky claims that statement "overreaches" as Chris — who died by suicide in 2017 at the age of 52 — wrote more than 73% of the band's songs, including hits "Black Hole Sun" and "Spoonman." After his death, he left his property, including his intellectual and personal property rights to Vicky and their two children, Toni, 16, and Christopher, 15. (Chris also has daughter Lillian, 20, with ex-wife Susan Silver.)
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In a final attempt to resolve this matter without legal intervention, Vicky claims she offered the band $7 million each; a collective $21 million. She says the offer expressly noted that if the band were willing to share information pertaining to their interests, her money offer could increase. The band once again rejected Vicky's offer and refused to share their data.
Through the lawsuit, Vicky is seeking a judicial determination and declaration of the buyout price for Chris' interest in Soundgarden as of the date of his death, as well as related discovery (including the information which the band refused to voluntarily provide) and attorney's fees.
In a statement, a representative for the band told TMZ, "As requested by the Estate of Chris Cornell and as required by the laws of the State of Washington, the surviving members of Soundgarden submitted to the Cornell Estate four months ago a buy-out offer of the Estate's interests in Soundgarden calculated by respected music industry valuation expert Gary Cohen."
"Since then, the band members have continued to try to settle all disputes with the Cornell Estate and in their several attempts to settle, the band members have elected to offer multiple times more than the amount calculated by Cohen," the statement continued. "This dispute has never been about money for the band. This is their life's work and their legacy."
To that, Vicky's lawyer, Marty Singer, fired back with a statement of his own.
"The band's contention that this dispute is somehow not about the money for them is absurd and hypocritical," Singer tells PEOPLE. "Of course this is about money and their greed."
"They received a third party offer to buy just a portion of their interests for $16 million dollars, and yet subsequently offered to buy out Chris' interest for a mere $278,000," he added. "And then Vicky offered $21 million for their shares, which they turned down — not because they wanted to preserve their life's work but because they know that they will make even more off of future exploitation of the music that Chris wrote and the legacy that he created (which has lined their pockets for years)."
A day after filing the lawsuit, Vicky seemingly addressed the situation on her Instagram Stories, writing, "MY TRUTH stands stronger than YOUR LIES. MY WILL stands stronger than YOUR MOTIVES. MY LOVE stands stronger than YOUR HATRED."
Vicky's 2019 lawsuit against the band over royalties and the rights to seven unreleased songs is still ongoing and has not yet been resolved.