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Woodstock 50 clashes with former investor in court

Woodstock 50 attorney Marc Kasowitz asks judge to force former investor Dentsu to return $18m to the festival account, as the Woodstock saga heads to court

By Anna Grace on 14 May 2019

Michael Lang

Woodstock founder Michael Lang

The first day of legal proceedings between Michael Lang’s Woodstock 50 and former financial partner Dentsu Aegis took place in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court yesterday (Monday 13 May), with a ruling yet to be reached.

Lang, who was not present in court, has hired former Donald Trump attorney Marc E. Kasowitz to put forward his case against Dentsu’s Marc Greenwald, as the former partners hit the courts.

Kasowitz is seeking an emergency injunction to force Dentsu to redeposit the US$18 million it withdrew from the festival account, arguing that the funds are imperative for the event to go ahead.

The sparring match between Woodstock organiser Lang and media conglomerate Dentsu has been ongoing since Denstu’s investment arm, Amplifi Live, pulled the plug on the event on 29 April, announcing its cancellation. Lang rejected the company’s authority to make such a decision and stated the event would go on.

Since then, Woodstock’s production partner Superfly has also pulled its support from the event.

“[Dentsu] secretly decided to abandon, and then sabotage the festival”

In paperwork filed prior to the court hearing, Kasowitz claims the investor “secretly decided to abandon, and then sabotage the festival.” The document states that $6 to $9 million is required if Woodstock 50 is to go ahead.

Although admitting that there remained “significant issues yet to be worked out”, the Woodstock 50 team stated all performers had been paid in full – amounting to $32 million – and the festival was “proceeding apace with planning and implementing key logistics” prior to Denstu’s departure.

Speaking in court, the former Trump attorney emphasised the iconic and unique nature of the anniversary event.

However, a memorandum of law filed by Dentsu that morning reportedly accused Lang of “misrepresentations, incompetence and contractual breaches”, stating that his failings had rendered the production of a high-quality and safe event impossible.

“The production company has quit, no permits have been issued, necessary roadwork has not begun, and there is no prospect for sufficient funding,” writes Greenwald.

Lang had previously declared he planned on securing new investors for the event.

“The production company has quit, no permits have been issued, necessary roadwork has not begun, and there is no prospect for sufficient funding”

“As much as the parties might wish it otherwise, the festival contemplated by their agreement cannot happen and allowing it to go forward would only put the public at risk,” states Greenwald.

Dentsu claims that Lang misrepresented the festival venue’s capacity, which was originally thought to be 150,000, and misled investors to believe that a mass-gathering permit would be secured by the end of 2018.

The media conglomerate states that these stipulations served as the basis for Amplifi Live to set its financial contributions of $49,141,000. Dentsu also claims that Amplifi Live “exclusively controlled” the festival’s financial account.

Such breaches, says Dentsu, allowed the company to terminate its agreement with Woodstock 50.

The court hearing continues today (Tuesday 14 May), to determine where contractual breaches for both parties may lie and decide the fate of Lang’s Woodstock 50.


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