Woodstock 50 Asks Court to Order Ex-Investors to Return ‘Pilfered’ $17.8 Million

Woodstock 50 has filed for a court order against its former investment partner, Dentsu, asking a New York court for an injunction that would require the firm to return $17.8 million organizers say Dentsu “pillaged” from the festival bank account. Woodstock is further asking the court to order Dentsu to “cease all communications relating to the Festival.”

Woodstock founder Michael Lang had sent a warning shot across the bow with a letter to Dentsu on Monday asking the company to “stop interfering with our efforts to put on this wonderful event and return the $17 million you improperly took.” In this subsequent court action, filed Wednesday, a lawyer for Woodstock 50 again contends that Dentsu had no right to attempt to unilaterally cancel the festival — which Lang contends will still go on —  and that “Dentsu’s sabotage did not stop with its unauthorized and improper cancellation announcement. Dentsu also pillaged the Festival bank account on its way out, taking all of the $17.8 million in the account earmarked for Festival production costs.”

On Monday, Dentsu provided Variety with a statement in response to Lang’s letter, saying, ““As financial partner, we had the customary rights one would expect to protect a large investment. After we exercised our contractual right to take over, and subsequently, cancel the festival, we simply recovered the funds in the festival bank account, funds which we originally put in as financial partner.”

Woodstock’s latest court action fires back at Dentsu’s assertion that there is contractual language that allowed them to cancel the festival. As an exhibit in the case, Woodstock 50 filed a production agreement between the festival and Dentsu’s partner, Amplifi Live, that says, “Any decision to cancel the Festival shall be jointly made in writing by the Parties.”

The court filing repeats what was perhaps the strangest assertion in Lang’s letter from Monday — that festival organizers had learned that Dentsu was contacting artists on the bill and suggesting they would be offered slots at the 2020 Olympics, for which Dentsu has been contracted as the marketing agency, if said acts would pull out of Woodstock 50.

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