The estate of CBGB’s founder has put the brand up for sale so the defunct New York punk-rock club where Blondie and The Ramones gained fame can live on in T-shirts, video games and perhaps a Broadway show.
The estate of founder Hillel “Hilly” Kristal, who died in 2007, is selling CBGB’s intellectual property rights including trademarks, domain names, recordings and artifacts, Streambank LLC, which was hired for the auction, said today in an e-mailed statement.
The name still resonates with global audiences and can be used at live clubs, on apparel and in interactive media, Streambank said. A Broadway musical, a satellite radio or cable-television channel, or video games are among the possibilities for a new owner, according to the company.
“We’re expecting it to trade well in excess of a couple million,” said Jack Hazan, a principal in Needham, Massachusetts-based Streambank, which specializes in intangible asset transactions.
The club, which billed itself as the birthplace of punk rock, closed after Kristal lost his lease in 2006, Hazan said. The founder died a less than year later.
Hillel’s estate sold the CBGB trademarks and intellectual rights once before for $3.5 million, including $1.11 million in cash and the remainder covered by a secured note. The estate foreclosed on the buyer, CBGB Holdings LLC, regaining the property after a bankruptcy judge’s ruling late last year, according to court filings.
Grungy East Village
CBGB-OMFUG, which stands for Country, Blue Grass, Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gourmandizers, was a dive at the corner of the Bowery and Bleecker Street in New York’s grungy East Village.
It opened in December 1973 and, under the curatorship of Kristal, became the cacophonous foundry from which punk and anarcho-rock emerged, through groups and solo artists including Blondie, the Dead Kennedys, Ani DiFranco and most lastingly, The Ramones.
Almost as famous as the music were the walls of the club’s rooms, plastered with concert fliers, business cards, graffiti and all manner of colorful, often obscene material.
Until its closing, CBGB drew passionate crowds of teens in cutoffs, skinheads, multi-hued tattoo mannequins and serious music fans to its famed cream-colored awning with the bright red bubble letters. While music made Kristal a legend, T-shirt sales made him rich.