The Graceland Presents Elvis exhibition, which opened in April 2015, had been billed as the largest and most impressive display of Elvis memorabilia outside of the late singer’s Graceland mansion home in Memphis, Tennessee. The memorabilia loaned to Exhibit A Circle for the 28,000 square-foot attraction included his 1957 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, his 1971 Stutz Blackhawk luxury car, his first gold record and several hundred other items.
Although Graceland Presents Elvis was designed as a permanent exhibition, it was closed down last month by Westgate because Exhibit A Circle had defaulted on its lease. Westgate then took the memorabilia into its own possession, allegedly in an effort to gain some leverage in its disagreement with the tenant.
In its lawsuit, Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc., which manages the Graceland estate and other assets of the Elvis Presley Trust and oversees licencing of Elvis-related products and services globally, claims that Westgate turned off security cameras before taking possession of the memorabilia.
‘Westgate cut off access to the video feed to the security cameras that were installed to ensure the authenticity and safety of the artifacts,’ the complaint said. ‘By shutting off this video, Westgate prevented anyone from seeing what Westgate did with Elvis Presley Enterprises' artifacts. Without the video, Elvis Presley Enterprises cannot confirm whether the artifacts were damaged, switched out, or otherwise misused.’
Elvis Presley had a particularly strong association with Las Vegas during his career. He starred in the movie Viva Las Vegas, which was released in 1964, and he also performed 645 shows at the International Hotel (which became the Las Vegas Hilton and is now the Westgate) as performer in residence from July 1969 to December 1976. The singer died in August 1977.
Whether the Graceland Presents Elvis exhibition will ever reopen at the current venue remains to be seen, but right now, with a lawsuit having been lodged against the Westgate by Elvis Presley’s estate, it doesn’t look likely.