Woodstock 50 Hearing Heading Into Second Day

George Holz
Michael Lang

“I don’t want to hear any testimony about how important it is to the world to have Woodstock 50,” Justice Barry R. Ostrager said. “This is a contractual dispute.”

The fate of Woodstock 50 won’t be known until tomorrow, after the judge in the case pushed the hearing into a second day.

A former attorney for President Donald Trump, Marc Kasowitz went head-to-head with Dentsu’s Marc Greenwald in a New York Supreme Court hearing Monday (May 13), seeking an emergency injunction to force Dentsu to redeposit the $18 million it withdrew from festival bank account, claiming the funds were necessary for the anniversary festival to go ahead as planned.

As the proceedings began on a rainy Manhattan afternoon, it quickly became clear that if a resolution were to be reached at all, it would not be in a timely fashion. After Kasowitz spent the first part of the hearing going through the agreement clause by clause, expounding upon the historical and sentimental importance of the event, Justice Barry R. Ostrager interjected, saying, “I thought I was going to hear testimony about whether the plaintiff breached the contract, or if the defendants breached the contract, and I think that’s what we should be doing."

Justice Ostrager didn’t try to hide his exasperation with Greg Peck, a hotel operator and partner in Woodstock 50 with co-founder Michael Lang (who wasn’t in court for the hearing). Peck was one three witnesses for the trial, but the only one to make it to the stand before the court adjourned for the day, to return Tuesday at 11 a.m. He appeared to anger the judge when he tried to dodge a question about the event’s profitability. 

“It wasn’t just a business transaction,” Peck insisted. “Artists were hoping to make great art that would honor the legacy of Woodstock. They were not mutually exclusive.” 

“I don’t want to hear any testimony about how important it is to the world to have Woodstock 50,” Ostrager snapped. “This is a contractual dispute.” 

Anyone hoping for a Monday verdict to W50 v. Dentsu was disappointed. Each party dug into minutae of the agreement and emails exchanged in the first few months of 2019 to determine whether Dentsu had breached its contract with Woodstock 50 by pulling out of the festival months before it was supposed to take place. The proceedings grew contentious at times as Kasowitz stated repeated objections (the vast majority of which were overruled) to Greenwald’s cross-examination of Peck, which sought to prove through his line of questioning that Woodstock 50 LLC and Lang’s “misrepresentations, incompetence, and contractual breaches” -- according to a memorandum of law filed the morning of May 13 -- would have made it impossible to pull off the event in a safe and successful manner.  

Peck and Kasowitz may have slightly undercut their cause by announcing in court they had already received offers from “reputable” promoters and financiers that were interested in stepping in to back the festival after Dentsu and promoter Superfly pulled out. “I’m not at liberty to disclose” who they are, said Peck, a motion Justice Ostrager supported.  

Festivals 2019


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