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Vicky Cornell sues Soundgarden, following “villainously low” offer for her stake in the band

[L-R] Chris Cornell and Vicky Cornell
(Image credit: Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)

Vicky Cornell – the widow of Chris Cornell – is once again suing Soundgarden, claiming she received a “villainously low” offer for her stake in the band.

According to court documents seen by Rolling Stone, Soundgarden received an offer worth $16 million from an unnamed third party seeking to purchase the band's recorded music catalogue. 

Cornell says the band offered to purchase her stake – which she inherited from her late husband – for the “villainously low figure of less than $300,000”.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Cornell's lawyer Marty Singer said, “The band’s contention that this dispute is somehow not about the money for them is absurd and hypocritical. Of course this is about money and their greed.”

Cornell had offered the band $21 million for their own shares, the lawsuit reveals, however they turned the offer down. The reason, Singer said, was “not because they wanted to preserve their life’s work but because they know that they will make even more off of future exploitation of the music that Chris wrote and the legacy that he created (which has lined their pockets for years).”

[L-R] Vicky Cornell, Ben Shepherd, Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil

(Image credit: Mat Hayward/John Lamparski/Getty Images)

A statement from a representative for the band says, "The surviving members of Soundgarden submitted to the Cornell Estate four months ago a buyout offer of the Estate’s interests in Soundgarden calculated by respected music industry valuation expert Gary Cohen.

“Since then, the band members have continued to try to settle all disputes with the Cornell Estate and in their several attempts to settle, the band members 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.”

Cornell has requested the courts determine a price for her assets that – in addition to the value of Soundgarden's master recordings – is based on future merchandise sales, potential tours with a new singer, possible hologram performances and “deep-fake renditions of Chris’ vocals drawn from extant recordings by artificial intelligence that could mint brand new Soundgarden hits”.

This is only the latest development in a string of disputes between Vicky Cornell and Soundgarden.

In December 2019, Cornell sued the band, claiming they were withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties which were owed to her and her family. The dispute also involved copyright issues regarding seven audio recordings made by Chris Cornell before his death in May 2017.

Surviving Soundgarden members Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd countersued in response, calling her complaint an “offensive recitation of false allegations and accusations”.

The band members also claimed Cornell had used funds raised by the I Am The Highway: A Tribute To Chris Cornell benefit concert for “personal purposes for herself and her family”.

Cornell's legal team responded with threats of legal sanctions, calling the band's actions “shameful and objectively frivolous.” The band agreed to voluntarily dismiss the claim regarding the charity concert.