Leonard Cohen’s estate has sold his entire songwriting catalog to Hipgnosis Songs Fund. The terms of the deal were undisclosed by a new fund backed by $1 billion from Blackstone in partnership with Hipgnosis Song Management, the music investment firm founded by Merck Mercuriadis, the ex-manager of Sir Elton John, and musician Nile Rodgers.
The deal includes the “songwriter’s share” of 127 songs in Cohen’s “Stranger Music” catalog, which includes everything Cohen published from the beginning of his career through 2000, including hits “Hallelujah” and “First We Take Manhattan,” as well as an additional 84 derivative works.
Hipgnosis also acquired material in Cohen’s “Old Ideas” catalog, which includes the copyrights, “publisher’s share,” and “songwriter’s share” of every Cohen song written from 2001 until his death in 2016 at the age of 82.
“This is one of the greatest literary figures of our time and made songs that the world knows and loves,” said Mercuriadis, who had been in talks with the Cohen estate for a year prior to the sale.
Hipgnosis has recently acquired several major publishing catalogs, including Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham, and Jimmy Iovine.
In addition to the sale of Cohen’s catalog, a previously unpublished novel by the artist will be released on Oct. 11.
Originally written in Montreal in 1956, the same year Cohen published his first poetry collection “Let Us Compare Mythologies,” the new novel titled “A Ballet of Lepers” (Grove Press) is centered around “toxic relationships and the lengths one will go to maintain them,” according to the book description.
The 91-page novel will be accompanied by 15 short stories and the script for a radio play from Cohen’s archives, all written between 1956 and 1961 and assembled by Cohen scholar Alexandra Pleshoyano, who has written an afterword. Titled A Ballet of Lepers: A Novel and Stories, the pieces explore themes “from shame and unworthiness to sexual desire in all its sacred and profane dimensions to longing, whether for love, family, freedom, or transcendence,” and “probe the inner demons of his characters, many of whom could function as stand-ins for the author himself.”
Cohen once said that “A Ballet of Lepers,” was “probably a better novel” than his celebrated first novel, “The Favorite Game,” published in 1963.
“Leonard said before his death that his life’s true masterwork was his archive, which he kept meticulously for the benefit of fans and scholars one day to discover,” said Robert Kory, trustee of the Leonard Cohen family trust, in a statement. “I’m pleased that, with this book, his readers and listeners can begin that rich journey.”
Photo: Sony Music Publishing