Prince and his Paisley Park Enterprises are the subject of a defamation lawsuit filed by his former girlfriend, Charlene Friend, in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday (April 19).
The plaintiff, Friend, was “romantically involved” with Prince in 1991, and was the recipient of several gifts from the singer, including a jacket worn by him in a 1991 concert, an audiocassette, a Christmas card, a comic book, and the video Gett Off, according to court papers. Friend claims in the suit that she retained ownership of the items after the couple “discontinued their relationship,” and that Prince had never requested that she return the items.
About 10 years later, in August of 2001, Friend decided to sell the items because they “no longer had any sentimental value to her.” Friend contacted the Fine Arts Brokerage Service (fineartsbrokerage.com) and had the company put the items up for auction.
The following month, Darren Julian, senior vice president at Fine Arts, received a letter from an attorney representing Prince and Paisley Park Enterprises. The letter claimed that the items put up for bid by Friend were “acquired by fraud and/or theft” from Prince, according to the suit. In addition, the letter threatened legal action against the plaintiff and Fine Arts if the items were not removed from the auction site immediately. After receiving the letter, Fine Arts pulled the items from the auction.
Friend claims that the letter contained defamatory allegations, saying in the court papers that she has been “branded as a thief” and has lost the ability to sell any items other than those that she can verify that she legally owns. In addition to her defamation complaint, Friend is also claiming that the defendants interfered with her existing contract with Fine Arts, and that she suffered both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress as a result of the defendants’ actions.
Prince is currently married to former Paisley Park employee Manuela Testolini, according to published reports.