A lawsuit taken by the two sons of music promoter Bill Graham has been dismissed by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland. The case was taken against Bill Graham’s executor, Nicholas Clainos. He was accused of cheating the sons out of expensive concert posters and the Fillmore Auditorium trademark, which is worth millions of dollars.

Events that Led to This Ruling

Bill Graham was a leading pop music promoter for over twenty-five years. He died in a helicopter accident in October 1991, aged 60. At the time of his death David Graham and Alexander Graham-Sult, his sons, were 23 and 14 respectively. Their father left behind a $36 million estate. which was divided out by his executor after a 3 ½ year legal battle. His two sons received almost $10 million dollars each in the settlement.

Clainos was sued by Graham’s sons in 2010. This case was a legal battle involving 174 posters of images of household names like Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. The Fillmore Auditorium trademark name was also contested as part of this lawsuit.

U.S. Presidents Pay Tribute to Billy Graham

Clainos and others purchased Bill Graham Enterprises in 1994 for $4.5 million. However, Graham’s sons claim Clainos did not tell them certain music-related items were included in the sale. They said they first found out about these items by accident in 2009 when they visited Bill Graham Enterprises headquarters. They believed they were entitled to stop the sale of the items and buy the property.

Despite this, Judge Claudia Wilken ruled against Graham’s sons, stating that the posters belonged to Bill Graham Enterprises. They were sold in the correct manner. She added that Graham’s son’s got $778,000 when the posters were sold and obtained 10% share in the company.


Bill Graham Enterprises

Bill Graham setup Bill Graham Enterprises to avail of corporate structure benefits. Judge Wilken went on to explain that concerts were staged under this company name and poster artists were paid through the company. The trademark for Fillmore was also tied in with the company.

920x920A similar case was dismissed by Judge Wilken in 2011 because it wasn’t filed in time. The music items sale was disclosed to the Graham brothers’ lawyer by Clainos in 1997.

An Appeal Is Almost Certain

Graham’s sons’ lawyer, Arturo González stated that the decision made by Judge Wilken will more than likely be appealed and a jury will be involved. Zia Modabber who is Clainos’ lawyer said the outcome of the case vindicated her client and hoped Bill Graham’s sons would move on from this.