It appears that the late Duane Nelson was not Prince's biological brother after all. But attorneys for Duane's progeny are arguing that under Minnesota law, that shouldn't matter when it comes time to divvy up the late megastar's multimillion-dollar estate.
Court documents released Tuesday say that Prince and Duane did not share a father — John L. Nelson — even though his name is on both men's birth certificates. John L. Nelson did sire Prince, the documents say, but Duane's father was Joseph Griswold. Duane's mother was John L. Nelson's ex-wife, Vivian Nelson, while Prince's mother was Mattie Nelson, who was married to John after Vivian.
The revelations were contained in filings by attorneys for Duane's daughter and granddaughter, Brianna Nelson and Victoria Nelson. They claim that they have a rightful place among several heirs who stand to inherit Prince's estate, valued between $100 million and $300 million.
Prince died April 21 of an overdose of the painkiller fentanyl. He has no known will.
Attorneys for Brianna Nelson and Victoria Nelson say that under Minnesota law, a genetic relationship isn't necessary for the two to qualify as heirs. John Nelson called Duane his son, he dropped Duane off at college and identified Duane in a draft of his will, according to court documents.
Duane also had a close relationship with Prince, according to the documents. In high school, Prince referred to Duane as his brother, and the two remained close into adulthood. Duane worked for a time as Prince's security chief.
Brianna Nelson and Victoria Nelson have resisted genetic testing ordered in July by Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide, who is overseeing the estate.
On Monday, Eide issued an order vacating the earlier order requiring that they submit to genetic tests to prove their claim on the estate, noting that they were not claiming to be blood relatives.
Eide said that if he finds that Brianna Nelson and Victoria Nelson have a valid claim on the estate under another theory of law, then he would conduct an evidentiary hearing on Nov. 30.