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Tennessee attorney general looking into attempt to sell Graceland in foreclosure auction

FILE - Fans wait in line outside Graceland Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File) FILE - Fans wait in line outside Graceland Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File)
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -

Tennessee's attorney general said Thursday that his office is looking into a company's attempt to sell Elvis Presley's home Graceland at a foreclosure auction, a move that was stopped by a judge after the king of rock n' roll's granddaughter filed a lawsuit claiming fraud.

Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a news release that the beloved Memphis tourist attraction "became the target" of Nausanny Investments and Private Lending when it tried to sell the home-turned-museum based on claims that Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, had failed to pay back a loan where Graceland was used as collateral.

Shelby County Chancellor JoeDae Jenkins issued an injunction Wednesday against the proposed auction, which had been scheduled for Thursday. Jenkins' injunction essentially kept in place a previous restraining order issued at the request of Presley's granddaughter Riley Keough.

Tennessee's appointed attorney general can investigate and bring civil lawsuits, including in instances of alleged consumer fraud. But his authority in criminal court is significantly more limited, usually reserved for representing the state during appeals. Local district attorneys, who are elected, bring criminal cases.

"My office has fought fraud against homeowners for decades, and there is no home in Tennessee more beloved than Graceland," Skrmetti, a Republican, said in the release. "I have asked my lawyers to look into this matter, determine the full extent of any misconduct that may have occurred, and identify what we can do to protect both Elvis Presley's heirs and anyone else who may be similarly threatened."

A spokesperson for the district attorney's office in Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said Thursday that it was not currently investigating. And a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesperson said it hasn't been asked by the Shelby County district attorney to investigate, which is how the agency would potentially get involved.

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

Darrell Castle, a Memphis attorney who is not involved in the case but is monitoring it, said he was not surprised at the state attorney general's involvement.

"That's what should happen, it's that important," Castle said. "Somebody with investigative authority needs to look into it and get to the bottom of it."

After the judge's decision Wednesday, a statement from someone who appeared to be a representative of the company said it would drop its claim, which the Presley estate has argued was based on fake documents. Online court records did not immediately show any legal filings suggesting the claim had been dropped.

A public notice for a foreclosure sale of the 13-acre (five-hectare) estate posted earlier in May said Promenade Trust, which controls the Graceland museum, owes US$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. A lawsuit filed last week by Keough alleged that Naussany presented fraudulent documents regarding the loan in September 2023.

"Lisa Maria Presley never borrowed money from Naussany Investments and never gave a deed of trust to Naussany Investments," Keough's lawyer wrote in a lawsuit.

Naussany did file an unsuccessful motion denying the lawsuit's allegations and opposing the estate's request for an injunction. Nausanny did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.

A statement emailed to The Associated Press after Wednesday's ruling said Naussany would not proceed because a key document in the case and the loan were recorded and obtained in a different state, meaning that "legal action would have to be filed in multiple states." The statement, which was sent from an email address listed in court documents, did not specify the other state.

"The company will be withdrawing all claims," the statement said.

The court documents included addresses for the company 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 that she never met Lisa Marie Presley nor notarized any documents for her, according to the estate's lawsuit. The judge said the notary's affidavit included in the lawsuit brings into question "the authenticity of the signature."

Graceland opened as a museum and tourist attraction in 1982 as a tribute to Elvis Presley, the singer and actor who died in August 1977 at age 42. It 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.

"Graceland will continue to operate as it has for the past 42 years, ensuring that Elvis fans from around the world can continue to have the best in class experience when visiting his iconic home," Elvis Presley Enterprises said in a statement.

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Mattise reported from Nashville, Tennessee.

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