Woodstock 50 Files Appeal to Force Return of $18M From Japanese Financier Dentsu

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Michael Lang participates in the Woodstock 50 lineup announcement at Electric Lady Studios on March 19, 2019 in New York.

After declaring victory last week in a New York hearing, Woodstock 50 is now appealing part of the ruling and trying to force the festival's former financer Dentsu to return $18 million it withdrew from the event's banking account.

On May 15, Justice Barry Ostrager ruled Dentsu did not have the right to cancel Woodstock 50, but also decided he would not force Dentsu to return the remainder of the $49 million investment to festival founder Michael Lang and his partner Greg Peck so they could continue to produce the show.

Woodstock 50 attorney Marc Kasowitz's appeal filed Tuesday with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York states Ostrager "erred in denying” Woodstock’s request to compel Dentsu "to restore the $18 million to the Festival's dedicated account, and to permit the use of those funds to produce the Festival.” He also noted that Dentsu "has admitted it has no intention of producing the festival, nor restoring funds that were wrongfully diverted” by the Japanese advertising firm.

On April 29, Dentsu announced it was canceling the Aug. 16-18 anniversary concert in Watkins Glen, New York. Dentsu’s chief commercial officer DJ Martin said Lang had misrepresented the capacity of the festival when the company first agreed to invest and failed to meet benchmarks to get the site ready or secure permits.

Lang responded with a lawsuit and, after a two-day hearing, Ostrager ruled a clause in the contract that allowed Dentsu to take control of the festival did not include the right to cancel it. But Ostrager stopped short of demanding Dentsu return any money it had previously promised to invest, stating Kasowitz failed to meet "the high burden entitling it to a mandatory injunction forcing Amplifi to provide W50 with access to the $17.8 million W50 is not contractually entitled to control.”

Kasowitz's appeal for Woodstock 50 seeks "a preliminary injunction in aid of arbitration requiring (Dentsu) to return $18 million withdrawn from a dedicated festival account and allowing Petitioner to use those funds for appropriate expenses."