Chris Cornell’s widow sues Soundgarden over “villainously low” buyout offer for his assets

Vicky Cornell claims the band tried to buy her Soundgarden assets for less than $300,000.

Chris Cornell onstage

Photo: Gie Knaeps / Getty

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Vicky Cornell, the widow of singer Chris Cornell, has filed a new lawsuit against the surviving members of Soundgarden after claiming to have been offered less than $300,000 for her late husband’s share of band assets.

Per Rolling Stone, the buyout offer came after Soundgarden received an offer from a third party seeking to purchase the band’s master recordings for $16 million.

On Tuesday (16 February), Vicky Cornell filed a complaint at a US District Court in Seattle, Washington which referred to the buyout offer of $278,000 as a “villainously low figure”.

The lawsuit claims the band derived the figure through “valuation that is inconsistent with industry custom and standard” and “disregards that, when an iconic performer of Chris’ stature dies, the value of the band increases”.

It further stated that the proposed buyout figure “does not amount to the royalties that Vicky received from Soundgarden’s master recordings in 2018 alone”.

In a statement provided to Rolling Stone, a representative for Soundgarden argued that the figure was “calculated by respected music industry valuation expert Gary Cohen,” and added that the band have “elected to offer multiple times more than the amount calculated by Cohen. This dispute has never been about money for the band. This is their life’s work and their legacy”.

The lawsuit also claims that Vicky Cornell made two counter-offers to the band. On 17 December, 2020, she offered Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron, and Ben Shepherd $4 million each for their collective interests in Soundgarden, and later $7 million. Both were rejected.

Now, Vicky Cornell is seeking a judicial valuation of Cornell’s stake in Soundgarden’s assets, which will account for merchandise and “nostalgia-fueled projects”, such as “future tours with a replacement singer” and even “deep-fake renditions of Chris’ vocals drawn from extant recordings by artificial intelligence that could mint brand new Soundgarden hits”.

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