Wednesday, October 14, 2015


On this, the 38th anniversary of Bing Crosby's death, I figured it would be interesting to take a look at what became of his financial empire...

HLC Properties is a Nevada limited partnership formed in 1980 for the purpose of managing the entertainment empire created by Harry Lillis Crosby, professionally known as Bing Crosby, who died in 1977. Crosby’s personal representative and widow transferred to HLC his interests in various record masters, television programs, motion pictures, radio programs, music compositions, music publishing agreements, literary works, and the contract rights related to those interests, as well as the right of publicity. The general partner of HLC, Hillsborough Productions, Inc., was to manage the operations, including making all creative and business decisions about the interests transferred to HLC.

Before Crosby’s death, the business interests transferred to HLC were owned by Crosby but managed and operated by a staff of employees that had managed Crosby’s holdings for decades. Basil F. Grillo (1905-1995), the manager and accountant who had run Crosby’s organization for over 30 years, said that when he first began working for Crosby in 1945 or 1946, the Crosby operation was already so extensive that six months passed before he even met Crosby. That operation included musicians, singers, writers and agents, all of whom were involved in the creative and business aspects of records, motion pictures and radio and television programs. It also had interests in other fields. At times, business activities operated within formal entities. For example, Bing Crosby Productions was engaged in motion picture and television production. Bing Crosby Enterprises, Inc., was formed, but was later liquidated in the 1950s. The various businesses and entertainment interests of Crosby generally were managed under the name “Bing Crosby Enterprises,” but that operation was not a formal entity.

It appears that any formal business entity that Crosby utilized for his operations was dissolved or otherwise liquidated, for there is no suggestion of the existence of such an entity at his death. There is no indication of how or in what manner those entities were terminated -- whether by a formal dissolution or informal liquidation. After Crosby’s death, the executor of his estate, Richard C. Bergen of the law firm of O’Melveny & Meyers, continued to maintain “Mr. Crosby’s business office,” where Enterprises operated. In 1980, the executor entered into a limited partnership agreement with Hillsborough Productions, Inc. and Kathryn G. Crosby (Crosby’s second and surviving spouse) to form HLC Properties, an entity that would manage the interests Crosby left. Ultimately, the executor transferred the estate’s 78.685 percent interest in certain properties to HLC Properties. Kathryn Crosby also transferred her 21.315 percent interest in these same properties to HLC Properties.

In 1981, the probate court approved the formation of HLC Properties, approved the estate’s agreement to transfer estate properties and assets to HLC Properties, and approved the estate’s transfer of its limited partnership interest in HLC Properties to various family member trusts. Upon final distribution of the estate, the executor was discharged.

Mark Brodka, the second husband of Bing's only daughter, Mary Frances, served as chief legal counsel for HLC and filed lawsuits against Bing's recording company, Universal Music Group, alleging unpaid royalties. Universal countersued and in 2012 Universal and HLC reached agreement to cooperate in promoting Bing's musical legacy. Mr. Brodka was relieved of his legal duties to HLC by Bing's eldest son, Harry, with the approval of Mrs. Crosby...

1 comment:

  1. Basil F. Grillo's correct dates are 1910-2006, not 1905-2005, at least according to this obit: