R Kelly is trying to sell the publishing rights to his back catalogue, but no one wants to buy them.
The singer is currently facing an ongoing trial, on charges related to alleged crimes against five female accusers – three of whom were purportedly underage at the time – who allege physical, sexual and psychological abuse.
He will also face a number of other charges in separate trials, two in Chicago (one federal, one state), and one state trial in Minnesota. In 2019, it was reported that Kelly had just $625 to his name as a result of his ongoing legal battles.
He has been living in jail for the last two years, and was recently ordered to pay $4million to a woman who accused him of sexually abusing her when she was 16 amid other legal losses.
Now, Billboard reports that the singer is attempting to sell the publishing rights to his back catalogue, but is struggling to find a buyer, despite the songs earning an estimated $1.7million per year in the US.
This is despite a boom in the market, with the likes of Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Paul Simon, and the estates of Nick Drake and Prince all selling their rights for hundreds of millions of dollars in recent months.
“It has been offered to me a number of times by his team, and of course, I’ve said no for the obvious reasons,” Merck Mercuriadis, founder of the Hipgnosis Songs Fund. “There are incredible songs in that catalogue, but why would you take that kind of risk?”
Hipgnosis said last month that they have spent over $1billion on rights deals in the last year alone, including lucrative agreements with artists including Lindsey Buckingham, Blondie, and Neil Young.
Another anonymous asset buyer, who passed on Kelly’s catalogue in 2019, said: “We wouldn’t go near it with a 10-foot pole.”
Kelly, has denied wrongdoing and pled not guilty to the nine charges in the ongoing case in New York: one of racketeering and eight violations of the Mann Act, which criminalises the transportation of any woman or girl across state lines for “immoral” purposes, such as illegal sexual activity.