Courtney Love Hasn’t Controlled Kurt Cobain’s Likeness Since 2010
Frances Bean Cobain assumed control after her mother took a loan from her daughter's trust fund
Addiction and recovery website the Fix is continuing to dig into Courtney Love’s recent (and plentiful) legal history. In February it turned up unflattering deposition papers filed by her daughter Frances Bean Cobain that indicate Love is not a great pet owner, and in an article today, they’ve published the contents of more sealed documents that state the 19-year-old has had control of the publicity rights to her late father Kurt Cobain’s name, likeness and appearance for two years.
The hand-over reportedly happened in 2010, when Love borrowed a $2.75 million loan from her daughter’s trust fund in exchange for relinquishing her role as acting manager of End of Music LLC, Kurt’s main trademark handler (they’re responsible for the oversight of anything that has his face on it — mostly merch), to Frances’ lawyers. She also has no administrative rights to Cobain or Nirvana’s music — Primary Wave CEO Larry Mestel has those (much to her social media-spread dismay). At the moment, all she maintains ownership of is roughly 60 percent her late husband’s remaining personal belongings. Frances, of course, owns the other 40 percent.
In 2009, Love insisted she did not give permission for Guitar Hero to abuse her late husband’s image by making him a playable avatar in the game. Though Love vowed she was going to “sue the shit” out of gamemaker Activision, the company maintained the deal was legit. “Guitar Hero secured the necessary licensing rights from the Cobain estate in a written agreement signed by Courtney Love to use Kurt Cobain’s likeness as a fully playable character in Guitar Hero 5,” a rep said at the time. More recently, Love has ranted about the appearance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in The Muppets; she has, however, also offered Nirvana songs to Simon Cowell for use on The X Factor.
According to the Fix, Love will be able to once again profit from Kurt’s likeness when she repays her daughter, but keep in mind relations between the two are extraordinarily strained. Love lost custody of Frances Bean (and her trust fund) in 2009. Frances maintains a restraining order against Love, who she coldly referred to as her “biological mother” in a recent statement — a statement she had to issue after Love made creepy public accusations that Dave Grohl had “hit on” her daughter. Love has yet to pay or even call her lawyers back for other suits she’s involved in, too. For the time being, the Muppets can do whatever they like as long as Frances Bean and Larry Mestel say so.