Abijah Asadenaki Livingston, co-executor of Bunny Wailer’s estate, has issued a statement on Facebook where he has denied that the family has any objection to any deal with VP Records regarding the completion of a licensing deal that will allow the family to settle an outstanding hospital bill.
The outstanding hospital bill has to be settled so that the family can obtain a death certificate, and hence go ahead and plan the burial.
“My siblings and I are not against any deal with VP records. However, with the responsibility that my father has entrusted me as an executor, I cannot blindly sign any agreement concerning his intellectual property without reviewing the details of the contract especially knowing how protective my father was of his works,” the statement said.
New York-based attorney at law David Baram, who is representing Solomonic Productions Ltd., said that a commitment was made with the administrators at the Medical Associates Hospital for the final bill of $5.275 million to be settled from the proceeds of a music licensing deal with VP Records.
He believes that the commitment will be honored if a deal can be hammered out at the 11th hour between the board members of Solomonic Productions.
“The money necessary for the hospital bill to be paid will have to come from the licensing agreement which was made with Solomonic Productions and VP before Bunny passed,” Baram told the Jamaica Observer.
“It is still possible (for the deal to happen), however some members of the board of directors are not comfortable going forward. The record company is anxious to move forward but until there is a consensus with the board, then the deal is in limbo.”
Asadenaki, who is one of the board’s directors, has voiced serious concerns about the state of his father’s financial affairs and claimed that the family had been stonewalled in their repeated requests for copies of the contract.
“After several requests, neither I nor my attorney has received a copy of the contract for review. While VP Records patiently awaits a resolution, other parties involved have been trying to pressure me to sign an approval document without seeing the contract. This seems to be a calculated plot, with the looming importance of burying my father and avoiding public humiliation,” Asadenaki asserted.
However, children of the Most High can never walk in shame, he added.
Asadenaki said he had been largely frustrated in his attempts to establishing a payment plan with Medical Associates.
“They are demanding full payment due to their history of patients not clearing up their accounts. It doesn’t feel right to owe this institution as I truly appreciate the top class service of their staff especially now that I know funds are available,” he said.
He admitted that the family had grown more united in their shared ordeal as “my older siblings and I have stepped up to the responsibility of supporting our younger siblings, including my father’s 13-year-old daughter honors the spirit of Jah B”.
The young man contends that his father’s estate ought to have generated enough cash to cover the medical costs. Asadenaki revealed that his father, Neville O’Riley Livingston’s 2020 tax return from Soundexchange Inc. reveals a gross annual income of USD $203,095 equivalent to over JMD $25,000,000.
“This is the total from monthly deposits and represents the income from just one of his several royalty distributors. When we discovered this information we were shocked as it did not reflect the narrative being told to us, but we now understand why our requests of transparency had never been fulfilled. My father’s former manager, Maxine Stowe, is the only person other than my father with access to his accounts,” the statement said.
When contacted, Maxine Stowe, Bunny Wailer’s former manager and business partner, refused comment and instead referred all future queries regarding the issue to her lawyer, Roderick Gordon.
Gordon told The Gleaner in an article today that he is not in a position to speak on costs.
“I do not wish to comment in any way on my involvement in the Bunny Wailer estate. I met Jah B in 2009 or 2010 when he came to my chambers and I have also been consulted on matters to do with intellectual property. Jah B has been unwell, following a stroke and residual impairment, which necessitated treatment locally and internationally. But I am not in a position to speak on costs. Miss Stowe is close to Jah B and has conducted business for him. There are a lot of things being aired in the public that are private matters, so I will leave it there,” Gordon said.
Asadenaki is questioning what happened to his father’s royalty cheques which amounted to roughly US$240,000.
“When questioned by our family on March 4th 2021 about my father’s latest February royalty, she assured us that it, along with all future collections would be managed by Jah B’s local and international lawyers and kept in an escrow account. When the lawyers were contacted the local lawyer responded that “he is not in possession of any documents dealing with the assets of Neville O’Riley Livingston deceased”.
However, the US-based attorney stated that he has no access to the Soundexchange Inc. deposits, Asadenaki stated.
Further checks with Soundexchange Inc. revealed that they had made direct deposits of $10,174.41 USD on February 26th and $30,005.61 USD on March 25th 2021 to the same account they’ve always deposited to.
“Since then we have made several attempts through our attorney to get clarification from Ms. Stowe through her representative Roderick Gordon as to the whereabouts of these funds; which in total can cover my father’s $5,275,763.61JMD or $35,545.46 USD medical bills,” the statement said.
We still have not received a reply from either Ms. Stowe or her attorney to this day. The hospital’s business office who is in constant communication with me informed me that they have been trying to reach Ms. Stowe to no avail.
He voiced his objections to the fact that Ms. Stowe still exerted control over his father’s accounts.
“It has been over a month since my father’s passing yet my father’s former manager is still in control of his accounts. Why have these accounts not been turned over to his lawyers? The lawyers would be able to pay the hospital bills directly, the funeral home directly and any other costs associated with his funeral can be covered by his children. We would love to be able to cover all expenses ourselves, but the reality is we are unable to, but shouldn’t have to, since our father’s hard work has provided the funds to pay his expenses,” he said.
He called for government intervention in this vexing episode.
“We are calling on the Jamaican authorities to assist us in resolving this issue.
My father, a loving yet stern, spiritual individual was grounded by his Rastafari faith. He never placed emphasis on money or material things. Instead, he valued people. Bunny Wailer lived a philanthropic life and has given more to the people than he kept for himself thus receiving a label he truly embraced; Don Dada,” the statement pleaded.
“The local and international impact of his music that was centered on Truth, Human Rights and Justice, was coupled with the Love and joys of Dancing and Rub a Dub, to get a release from the systematic pressures and stresses of “Babylon”. Therefore, to honor and represent the LOVE shared between our father and the massive Reggae family, we are now focusing on celebrating his 74th Earthday on April 10th with a ROYAL virtual tribute”, the statement concluded.