Riley Keough Reveals Why She and Priscilla Presley Really Fought Over Graceland
The Daisy Jones & the Six star speaks out for the first time about their legal troubles.
On Jan. 12, 2023, Lisa Marie Presley—the only child of Elvis Presley—died unexpectedly at age 54 of what was later revealed to be a complication from weight-loss surgery. In the wake of her passing, legal issues sprung up among her surviving family members—namely, her daughter, Riley Keough, and mother, Priscilla Presley. Priscilla, Riley's grandmother, filed legal documents in January challenging an amendment Lisa Marie had made to her will in 2016, naming her daughter as co-trustee of her estate (which includes Elvis' home Graceland) and removing her mother. From there, the drama played out in public, with anonymous sources telling the media that Riley and Priscilla were not even on speaking terms at times. By June, however, the matter was resolved, reportedly to all parties' satisfaction.
In a new interview, Riley spoke out for the first time about being at odds with her grandmother at such an emotionally draining time. Read on to find out what the Daisy Jones & the Six star said was the real reason for the battle over Lisa Marie's estate, and how she and Priscilla are getting along now.
Lisa Marie inherited Graceland when she came of age.
As reported by Entertainment Tonight, Lisa Marie was named heir to Graceland along with Elvis' father, Vernon Presley, and grandmother, Minnie Mae Presley, when he died in 1977 at age 42. His daughter was only nine years old at the time, so his ex-wife Priscilla continued to serve as a co-executor of Elvis' estate and is credited for turning Graceland into a money-making tourist attraction.
Lisa Marie inherited Graceland when she turned 25. By that time, both Vernon and Minnie Mae had passed, so she was the sole heir.
In 2016, Lisa Marie filed an amendment to her own will that removed her mother and her former manager Barry Siegel as co-trustees, and installed her children, Riley and Benjamin Keough. Benjamin died in July 2020 at age 27, leaving Riley as the only trustee for Lisa Marie's estate.
Priscilla challenged the amendment.
Weeks after Lisa Marie died, Priscilla challenged the validity of the 2016 amendment, as reported by CBS News. She claimed in court documents that she was not alerted to the change, that the signature on the amendment did not match Lisa Marie's signature, and that Priscilla's name was spelled incorrectly at one point in the filing.
Per People, managing partner at Elvis Presley Enterprises Joel Weinshanker responded to Priscilla's filing on Sirius XM in early February, stating, "[Lisa Marie and I] discussed this many many times [before] she passed, and that was always Riley and Ben. There was never a question in her mind that they would be the stewards [of Graceland], that they would look at it the exact same way that she did. And obviously when Ben passed, it really sat with Riley."
As reported by ET, Priscilla shot back at claims that she did not have Elvis' interests at heart in a statement that read, in part, "Please allow us the time we need to work together and sort this out. Please ignore 'the noise.' As I have always been there for Elvis' legacy, our family and the fans, I will continue to forge a pathway forward with respect, honesty, dignity, integrity and love."
The matter was resolved.
It was reported in May 2023 that a settlement had been reached between Riley and Priscilla over the estate. In June, certain specifics came to light, per People, including that Riley would pay her grandmother a $1 million lump sum plus $400,000 in legal fees. Priscilla was officially removed as a trustee by the court, and the documents indicate that Riley will not seek payment for her services as a trustee. In addition to being in charge of her mother's estate, Riley is also trustee of the sub-trusts for her 14-year-old half-sisters, Harper and Finley Lockwood.
Following the resolution, Priscilla issued another statement. "My family has resolved all confusion as it relates to our plea to the court and request for document interpretation after my daughter Lisa Marie's untimely passing," it reads. "Although some media identified such a plea as a lawsuit, I want to make clear that there was never any lawsuit filed against my beloved granddaughter."
Riley's lawyer told ET at the time that she was "very happy" with the outcome.
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Riley just spoke out directly for the first time.
In a profile published by Vanity Fair on Aug. 8, Riley addressed her legal issues with her grandmother for the first time publicly.
"When my mom passed, there was a lot of chaos in every aspect of our lives," the 34-year-old actor said. "Everything felt like the carpet had been ripped out and the floor had melted from under us. Everyone was in a bit of a panic to understand how we move forward, and it just took a minute to understand the details of the situation, because it's complicated. We are a family, but there's also a huge business side of our family. So I think that there was clarity that needed to be had."
After confirming that they had found that "clarity" they were searching for regarding the business, Riley was asked whether her relationship with her grandmother was "happy."
"Things with Grandma will be happy," she replied. "They've never not been happy."
She continued, "There was a bit of upheaval, but now everything's going to be how it was. She's a beautiful woman, and she was a huge part of creating my grandfather's legacy and Graceland. It's very important to her. He was the love of her life. Anything that would suggest otherwise in the press makes me sad because, at the end of the day, all she wants is to love and protect Graceland and the Presley family and the legacy. That's her whole life. So it's a big responsibility she has tried to take on. None of that stuff has really ever been a part of our relationship prior. She's just been my grandma."