Woodstock 50 Financier Hits Back at Michael Lang With Blistering Legal Rebuttal

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Woodstock Music Festival co-producer Micael Lang attends a celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock at the at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC on Aug. 13, 2009 in New York City. 

Lawyer for Dentsu accuses Woodstock co-founder of "misrepresentations, incompetence, and contractual breaches"

Lawyers for Dentsu have punched back at Woodstock 50 co-founder Michael Lang ahead of a hearing this afternoon seeking an emergency injunction over nearly $18 million in funding for the anniversary event.

"Woodstock 50 LLC’s and Michael Lang’s misrepresentations, incompetence, and contractual breaches have made it impossible to produce a high-quality event that is safe and secure for concertgoers, artists, and staff," Dentsu's attorney Marc L. Greenwald wrote in lengthy memorandum of law in opposition to Woodstock's request for an injunction, which could be decided this afternoon at a hearing in New York court.

"The production company has quit, no permits have been issued, necessary roadwork has not begun, and there is no prospect for sufficient financing," Greenwald wrote. "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."

Last week, Woodstock 50 attorney Marc Kasowitz asked a judge to force the return of $18 million officials for Dentsu and its investment arm Amplifi Live withdrew from a bank account it shared with Woodstock 50. Taken shortly after Dentsu announced it was canceling the festival on April 29, attorneys for Lang said the withdrawal sunk the festival's prospects and made it impossible to stage the anniversary concert.

Kasowitz released this statement to Billboard after the filing was made public: “While Dentsu has used its filing to sling mud, nothing in its court papers changes the fact that Dentsu has no right under its agreement with Woodstock 50 to either cancel the Festival or abscond with nearly $18 million of the Festival’s money. We look forward to addressing that in court this afternoon.”

Greenwald wrote in his filing that Lang repeatedly lied to Dentsu chief commercial officer DJ Martin, saying the 74-year-old misrepresented that the festival site at Watkins Glen International speedway could accommodate 150,000 fans. Lang is also accused of lying about how far along he was with the application process for a mass gathering permit with New York's Department of Health -- so far no permit has been secured.

After depositing $49 million in a shared account -- Woodstock 50 was given read-only access and could not make payment allocations -- Martin claimed he was repeatedly told the site could accommodate 150,000 fans, only to learn from producer Rick Farman with Superfly that the event's maximum capacity could be no more than 75,000.

"W50 repeatedly ignored the safety assessment of the festival’s producer—a producer that W50 itself picked, and repeatedly insisted that the festival capacity was much higher," Greewald wrote. 

Superfly issued Woodstock a breach notice first on March 29 and then again on April 10, according to Greenwald, who says Lang pushed ahead with booking a $25 million talent slate despite the capacity being potentially cut in half. 

"Not only did W50 book talent, but it promised to make payments to the artists, contrary to Amplifi Live’s explicit instructions," Greenwald wrote. "Amplifi Live had no option but to make these payments after a damaging rumor leaked to the public that the Festival was experiencing financial difficulties, threatening the Festival’s success."

Greenwald also said Lang ignored requests by Dentsu that participating artists agree to refund the money if the artists cancel and accuse Lang of misappropriating thousands in unneeded expenditures.

This story has been updated to include comments from Marc Kasowitz.


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