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February 08, 1988|JUDITH MICHAELSON and JOHN VOLAND | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Elvis Presley might have been entertainment's richest man if he had watched his finances a little more carefully. The Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial Appeal newspaper reported Sunday that the King squandered millions of dollars during his career because of poor management, extravagant spending, generosity and a manager who at one point took half his earnings. The copyright article said that despite lifetime record sales in excess of $500 million, 33 movies that grossed more than $180 million, many Las Vegas shows, television specials and live concerts, Presley left behind an estate worth less than $79 million when he died in 1977. (By contrast, former Beatle John Lennon, who was killed in 1980, left $200 million in assets.) The report said Presley would go on phenomenal spending sprees, such as the purchase of 10 Mercedes automobiles for Christmas presents in 1970. Said Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, his former wife and co-executor of his estate: "There were times when his father would come to him and say, 'Son, we're low on cash flow. We need to look at this a little bit more before we spend any more.' But once Elvis went on a binge, it was hard to stop him."

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