Woodstock 50 suing former financial backer over “sabotage” and “destruction of the festival”
Remember last summer's saga of the failed Woodstock 50? We started 2019 with two potential festivals celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original 1969 event, and watched over the course of months as tickets didn't go on sale, venues and artists dropped out, and the festival's first financial backer announced its cancellation, among other misfortunes. Now Woodstock 50 organizers are suing their former financial backer Dentsu Group, Rolling Stone reports.
The complaint, filed on Wednesday (6/17) in the New York Supreme Court, accuses Dentsu of "sabotage" and the "destruction of the festival." "Dentsu Group and its affiliates Dentsu Aegis Network and MKTG are directly responsible for the destruction of the Woodstock 50 Anniversary Festival," it reads.
"Dentsu’s wrongful actions to defame Woodstock 50 were undertaken for the purpose of preventing other parties from attending, financing or participating in the Festival," the complaint continues, "and were intended to and did ensure that the Festival failed and Woodstock 50 could make no profit from the Festival. Absent Dentsu’s wrongful actions, Woodstock 50 would have been able to successfully produce the Festival, and further monetize the Festival through media and sponsorship deals and future licensing deals relating to the Festival."
According to the complaint, "Despite Woodstock 50’s best efforts, Dentsu’s sabotage was effective and complete, and directly resulted in huge damages to Woodstock 50. As a result of Dentsu’s egregious conduct, Woodstock 50 is entitled to tens of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages."
A representative for Dentsu denied the claims in a statement to Rolling Stone, saying "Dentsu’s affiliate, Amplifi Live, acted in the best interest of the public last year after Woodstock 50 breached its agreement. After a full evidentiary hearing, the court credited Amplifi Live’s evidence that a safe and profitable festival could not be mounted, and therefore refused to order Amplfi Live to continue funding the project. That decision was affirmed on appeal. The parties are about to engage in an arbitration hearing, but Woodstock 50 prefers baseless claims in press releases rather than to have the parties’ dispute decided by arbitrators. Amplfi Live is vigorously defending these claims in arbitration and pursuing breach and fraud claims against Woodstock 50. Amplifi Live and its parent and affiliates will vigorously defend Woodstock 50’s eleventh-hour effort to escape the arbitration forum. Woodstock 50 does not represent the Woodstock brand, having lost that license, and the claims in this new filing have no merit and are improper."
To recap, while the Supreme Court of New York previously ruled that Dentsu couldn't cancel the festival on its own, they also couldn't compell Dentsu to return $17 million dollars that Woodstock organizers claim was "illegally swept" from festival bank accounts.