The sale of more than $500 million of Pink Floyd’s music catalog has hit a wall, with the auction delayed by months of rows between band members over taxes, assets and bassist Roger Waters’ claims that he is on a list of murders in Ukraine.
The dispute jeopardizes an expected payment for a catalog of songs that is seen as one of the most valuable assets to come to market during a boom in vintage rock music sales.
With interest from a broad group of investors and music companies, including Blackstone, Sony Music and Warner Music, Pink Floyd was expected to gross over $500 million, making it one of the biggest deals in musical rights never realised.
However, the auction process – which began in May – was mired in drama and delayed for months by disagreements among band members over the deal’s tax structure, according to multiple people involved in the negotiations.
Waters lives in the US while other members are in the UK, and her relationship with Dave Gilmour has been strained for decades, making it difficult to agree on a complex financial transaction.
A bidder for the catalog said the strained relationship had “made it impossible”. Another said he may never be able to get a deal done, even if a buyer is chosen, because the band “never needs an excuse to disagree”. Negotiating the deal was “as difficult as it gets”, said a person familiar with the talks.
Bidders have become accustomed to calling the advisor in charge of the sale a “mediator”.
The bidders had been told that the process would restart shortly after getting stuck on how to structure the deal in a tax-efficient way.
They still hoped to reach an agreement in the coming weeks and talks were active, people with knowledge of the details said.
Waters’ controversial comments this week – in which he claimed to be on a Ukrainian “kill list” — didn’t help matters, according to the bidders involved.
Waters told Rolling Stone on Tuesday: “It’s a pointless war. . . Russia should not have been encouraged to invade Ukraine after 20 years of trying to avoid it by suggesting diplomatic measures to Western governments.
Band members Gilmour and Nick Mason have released a new song this year in support of Ukraine after the Russian invasion, with proceeds going to Ukrainian humanitarian aid. Gilmour said he was “disappointed” with Waters.
Pink Floyd’s surviving band members are from the late 70s and seek to follow stars such as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen who have sold their song catalogs for hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years, profiting from the growing demand for music from Wall Street Investors.
Waters and Gilmour have had a strained relationship for more than four decades. Drummer Nick Mason in 2018 said“It’s really disappointing that these older gentlemen are still at loggerheads. . . it would seem silly at this point in our lives to keep fighting.
The band’s coveted song catalog includes hits like “Money”, “Comfortably Numb” and “Welcome to the Machine”. The members of Pink Floyd did not immediately respond to requests for comment.