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Where Can I Buy a Bowie Bond?

Looking at the market for bonds backed by song royalties

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It's been more than a decade since Wall Street joined forces with rock and roll to create the first investment backed by music -- the Bowie Bond.

Bowie Bonds are what's known as an asset-backed security. In other words, the annual payments on the bonds are made from money generated from a particular property. For Bowie Bonds, the asset at the core of the investment are the current and future revenues generated from the first 25 albums released by legendary performer David Bowie.

A banker named David Pullman created the bonds. He convinced Bowie to forfeit his rights to all royalties for a 10-year period. Pullman then used those royalties to create the funding for the bonds.

The Prudential Insurance Co. bought up the entire bond issue, paying some $55 million to the British-born singer.

Where Can I Buy a Bowie Bond?

Ever since the debut of the Bowie Bond, music fans have wondered if buying one of the debt instruments was a good investment, a way to express support for Bowie, or both.

But fans quickly learned that Prudential did not intend to sell the bonds to individual investors on the secondary market. As a result, Bowie Bonds remained hidden away in the institutional market.

In the years since the Bowie Bonds were first introduced, similar bonds backed by the royalties of musicians such as James Brown and the Isley Brothers have also appeared. These bonds have also remained in the institutional market.

As for the Bowie Bonds, the 10-year term expired in 2007. The bonds have been retired. And Mr. Bowie is now once again the sole owner of his music and its royalties.

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