Police probe alleged theft from estate of Aretha Franklin

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
Aretha Franklin

An investigation is being conducted into an alleged theft at Aretha Franklin’s Bloomfield Township home, authorities confirmed Thursday.

Township Police Lt. Timothy Abbo said the probe launched before the Queen of Soul’s death last summer and is ongoing. The department is not releasing additional information on the case, he said.

An attorney representing Franklin’s estate, David Bennett, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.

Earlier Thursday, celebrity website The Blast reported it had obtained documents revealing the investigation. The report comes as court battles continue over the legendary singer’s holdings.

When Franklin died from pancreatic cancer at her Detroit apartment on Aug. 16 at age 76, she left no will for an estate estimated at $80 million.

Internal Revenue Service “proof of claim” filings entered last month showed her estate owed the federal government more than $6.3 million in unpaid income tax.

The amount owed is cumulative, beginning with an unpaid assessed balance of $1,305,403 in December 2012 and including $552,718 due Dec. 31, 2018, the federal tax agency claims.

Bennett told The Detroit News at the time the estate has paid at least $3 million in back taxes to the IRS. He also said he believed the government was trying to seek some of the money from checks the entertainer never cashed.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Edward Franklin, one of her sons, have filed a motion to be heard before Judge Jennifer Callaghan in Oakland County on a request that monthly reports on all estate expenditures and bank transactions be made available to all heirs.

Franklin, the daughter of a prominent minister, was born in Memphis but grew up mainly in Detroit, where she began her legendary career singing gospel in her father's church. 

Through the years, she owned various Detroit properties that she eventually sold.

The last Motor City residence, a 5,600-square-foot brick home on Hamilton Road, was bought for $300,000 in late October by a Northville resident, public records show. An empty half-acre lot next to the home was also part of the deal.

Franklin had faced other issues with taxes and the government, including the IRS placing a lien on her Bloomfield Hills mansion in 1992 for $225,618 over personal taxes not paid the year before.