Woodstock 50 Loses Appeal to Recover $18.5M From Japanese Financier

Michael Lang
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

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

Dentsu will not have to return the remaining funds initially promised to put on the festival.

Woodstock 50 has suffered its third legal defeat in two months, with a panel of New York appellate judges denying an appeal by festival organizers seeking to force the restoration of $18.5 million in festival funds.

First reported by the Poughkeepsie Journal, the failed appeal leaves Woodstock 50's Greg Peck and Michael Lang with few options for recovering the money from Dentsu, a multinational Japanese conglomerate that had agreed to provide $49 million in funding for the Aug. 16-18 anniversary event, only to try and cancel the festival months later and withdraw its remaining investment from the festival's bank account. A judge later ruled Dentsu didn't have the right to cancel Woodstock 50, but balked on forcing the company to return its funds to Peck and Lang, saying the men were far behind on permits and had missed too many milestones to delivery a successful event.

Shortly after yesterday's ruling, reps for Woodstock 50 released a statement from attorney Marc Kasowitz saying, "Woodstock 50 is proceeding with the planning of the festival and looks forward to holding the festival at another venue with its new partners. The arbitration will address Woodstock 50's claims against Amplifi and determine the damages that Woodstock 50 will receive from Amplifi as a result of its wrongful conduct."

The appellate court didn't share its reasoning for denying Woodstock 50's appeal, but did direct Dentsu's attorney to release $18.5 million back to the company. Kasowitz was also denied a motion for a preliminary injunction against Woodstock 50 on May 29 after a judge declined to sign an order written by the New York attorney.

Earlier this month, officials with Watkins Glen International cancelled their licensing agreement to host Woodstock 50 after organizers failed to make a $150,000 payment, triggering a withdrawal of their application for a mass gathering permit with the New York Department of Health. The event lost its second festival producer and has not yet put tickets on sale, but refuses to concede defeat with Peck and Lang continuing to insist that the 50th anniversary festival will take place.