Tennessee turns over probe into failed Graceland sale to federal authorities, report says

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee attorney general's office said Tuesday that it has turned over its investigation into the failed sale of Elvis Presley’s home Graceland at a foreclosure auction to federal authorities, a newspaper reported.

The Commercial Appeal reported that Amy Lannom Wilhite, a spokesperson for Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, said in a statement that the investigation into the attempted foreclosure sale of the prominent tourist attraction “was a matter best suited for federal law enforcement.”

"We have faith in our federal partners and know they will handle this appropriately,” the statement said.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday which federal authorities would be investigating. Wilhite did not immediately returns calls, texts and emails requesting the statement.

An FBI Memphis spokesperson said the FBI does not comment on the possibility or likelihood of investigations and he declined further comment.

Skrmetti said May 23 that he was investigating the attempted foreclosure sale of Graceland, Presley's former home-turned-museum in Memphis, where the King of Rock n' Roll lived before he died in 1977 at age 42.

The announcement came after the proposed auction was halted by an injunction issued by Shelby County Chancellor JoeDae Jenkins after Riley Keough, Presley's granddaughter, filed a lawsuit claiming fraud.

A public notice for a foreclosure sale of the 13-acre (5-hectare) estate posted in May said Promenade Trust, which controls the Graceland museum, owes $3.8 million after failing to repay a 2018 loan. Keough, an actor, inherited the trust and ownership of the home after the death of her mother, Lisa Marie Presley, last year.

Naussany Investments and Private Lending said Lisa Marie Presley had used Graceland as collateral for the loan, according to the foreclosure sale notice. Keough's lawsuit alleged that Naussany presented fraudulent documents regarding the loan in September 2023 and that Lisa Maria Presley never borrowed money from Naussany.

Court documents included company addresses in Jacksonville, Florida, and Hollister, Missouri. Both were for post offices, and a Kimberling City, Missouri, reference was for a post office box. The business also is not listed in state databases of registered corporations in Missouri or Florida.

Kimberly Philbrick, the notary whose name is listed on Naussany’s documents, indicated she never met Lisa Marie Presley nor notarized any documents for her, according to the estate’s lawsuit. Jenkins, the judge, said the notary’s affidavit brings into question “the authenticity of the signature.”

A search of online records for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority showed no registration for the company. No representatives of Naussany appeared in court, though the company filed an unsuccessful motion denying the lawsuit’s allegations and opposing the estate’s request for an injunction.

A statement emailed to The Associated Press after the judge stopped the sale said Naussany would not proceed because a key document in the case and the loan were recorded and obtained in a different state, meaning “legal action would have to be filed in multiple states.” The statement, sent from an email address listed in court documents, did not specify the other state.

An email sent May 25 to the AP from the same address said in Spanish that the foreclosure sale attempt was made by a Nigerian fraud ring that targets old and dead people in the U.S. and uses the Internet to steal money.

Keough's lawsuit remains active. No future hearings have been set.

Graceland opened as a museum and tourist attraction in 1982 and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. A large Presley-themed entertainment complex across the street from the museum is owned by Elvis Presley Enterprises.