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In Death, Prince's Popularity Will Rise From The Ashes

Value of Prince's Estate will probably soar as did Michael Jackson's, John Lennon's

"Dearly beloved, We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life

Electric word life! It means forever and that's a mighty long time. But I'm here to tell u There's something else: the afterworld. A world of never ending happiness. You can always see the sun, day or night!" -- Prince, Let's Go Crazy

Music legend Prince Nelson Rogers, who died Thursday at the age of 57, has been cremated and buried in a private ceremony. Prince is gone forever and that's a mighty long time; but his popularity – and his money – are expected to soar long after he's gone.

Michael Jackson left an estate worth about 600 million. Prince's estate, posits the LA Times, is worth about half that, $300 million. Among the treasures inside Paisley Park is the so-called vault in the basement, where Prince reportedly kept the master recordings to hundreds of unpublished songs and at least two complete albums. It's hard to put a value on those items.

Prince was found dead in an elevator at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minn. on Thursday morning. Prince was clearly a good business man, but he had no children, no wife, no obvious heir. Experts say he may well have not left a will.

Prince had recently signed a contract with the music streaming service Tidal. Court filings say he had signed a settlement agreement with Warner Bros. records, giving him ownership of his back catalogue. But the reality is, Prince never really cashed in on celebrity endorsements like he could have. It was always about the music. And in the long run, that might make his estate even more valuable.

Entertainment attorney Lee Phillips became Prince's lawyer when he was just 18 and represented him for more than a decade. Phillips posits that for pop icons who die young, like Prince at 57 and Michael Jackson at 50, their intellectual property skyrockets.

"There will be a spike in income [when] people of that ilk pass away, especially in [their] 50s," Phillips says. But, the platinum question is whether the eccentric, mercurial Prince Rogers Nelson, had drawn up a will at all.

"It has lots of potential to get messy or not messy at all depends if he had an estate plan monitored," Phillips said. The twice divorced singer leaves behind a sister and several half siblings.

Paisley Park has an assessed value of $6.7 million. Prince had about $11 million in property in Carver County. The taxes on Paisley Park alone were a quarter of a million dollars a year.

Prince also owns nearby property and has his own charity. "He may well have set up a foundation where all of it went to charitable purposes," Phillips said. "It's what I would have done if I were Prince."

But, Prince's finances have always been murky. The real value will be that secret stockpile of recordings – a legacy that will live on artistically and financially.

If prince did not have a will – Phillips told the local Fox affiliate he would not be surprised in the least by that – it's the state of Minnesota and the probate courts who will decide who gets what.

The enigmatic rock star beloved by millions boasts TV/film appearances, more than 100 million records sold and a trove of unreleased recordings, all of which could stand to benefit the star's estate in years – and decades – to come.

"I think that the minimum income flow over the next five years – minimum – is $100 million," entertainment attorney Donald David, who has represented the estates of Tupac Shakur and TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez after their deaths and currently represents the estate of deceased Wu Tang Clan member Russell "Ol' Dirty Bastard" Jones tells PEOPLE.

David says that Prince's estate, including his assets, likely has a present value of "at least $250 million."

The musician is said to have several unreleased recordings locked away in an archive called the Vault, The New York Times reports. And the closely guarded tracks could land Prince a place on the music charts for a long while, David says.

"I know from my past experience that very often some of that material needs significant editing," David says. "Some of it can be used, some of it can't be used. But you're going to see unreleased Prince albums – if it is properly managed – for the next two decades."

However, Prince's own music isn't all the estate stands to profit from. The songwriter penned hits for other artists like "Manic Monday" by The Bangles, Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U," "Love Song" by Madonna, Celine Dion's "With This Tear," Alicia Keys' "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?" and more.

"There's a stream of income that he gets because he wrote a lot of material ... not only for himself, but for others so he has the writer's share of any royalty income from that," David notes. "In addition to that, there are performances he gave. He undoubtedly has residuals from things such as the Purple Rain soundtrack as well as other movies and other things that he has appeared in."

David says that although residuals will roll in over the next few years, it all comes down to how well the music legend's estate is managed.

"I would be shocked if someone who was as much of a controlled person as [Prince] is rumored to have been doesn't have a will," David says, noting that he is not personally involved with Prince's estate. "The first step is going to be to get that will probated and get a representative of the estate appointed.

"As long as the estate is well-managed – and they don't go for a quick hit by doing something like selling his publishing rights – it will produce income into [what would have been] his great-grandchildren's years without any problems."


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