The George Jones Museum in the lower Broadway portion of downtown Nashville has some of the best views of the waterfront, amazing facilities for all kinds of functions, some damn good buttermilk fried catfish, and now brand new owners.
Folks were left wondering what the fate of the 46,000 square foot, multi-story facility would be after the manager of the museum and a close financial partner to George Jones’ widow Nancy Jones plead guilty to fraud charges in October. Kirk West, also known as Kirk Leipzig, was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $1 million in restitution tied to defrauding local banks in property loans. This threw the leadership of the George Jones Museum in question, and had fans wondering the fate of the facility.
On Wednesday, November 23rd, it was announced that the George Jones Museum has been sold to a Nashville-based investment group called Possum Holdings LLC. The principal of the new ownership is a man named Paul Jankowski, who is a former executive at MCA Records, Gibson Guitars, and other music-based entities, and is currently the Chief Strategist at New Heartland Group which works on matching brands with celebrities. Some of the company’s high-profile deals include matching up Taylor Swift with Pepsi, and Blake Shelton with Pizza Hut.
Along with the George Jones Museum and all of its facilities, the ownership group also negotiated a Master License to the George Jones name, image, and likeness that they will be able to use for branding purposes. George Jones’ name and face are already emboldened on his own brand of moonshine, and could be coming to more products very soon.
“George Jones is one of the most iconic figures in country music history. Not only did the real estate intrigue us, but expanding the Jones legacy fueled our interest in building a world-class brand,” Jankowski said in a press release about the sale. The sale price for the museum and naming/likeness rights has not been disclosed.
“I poured my heart and soul into building a premier destination for George’s fans in a way that he would have loved,” said Nancy Jones, who now walks away from the endeavor. But the question some George Jones fans have is will the new ownership group show respect for the legacy of one of country music’s most iconic legends, or slap his name and face on whatever they feel can make them the most money?