White House Crasher Claims Journey Profited From His Split
Lawsuit: Journey's 2011 Tour, Its Biggest in 20 Years, Got Boost When Guitarist Began Dating Michaele Salahi
The White House crasher whose wife left him in a blaze of tabloid glory for Journey guitarist Neal Schon has filed a $50 million lawsuit claiming to have been "emotionally and financially" ruined by her actions, the Northern Virginia Daily is reporting. Tareq Salahi accuses Michaele Salahi of "humiliating him" in a ploy to make money for Schon, his famed band and herself.
The suit, filed in Warren County Circuit Court by Salahi's attorney, lists several defendants, including Mrs. Salahi, Nomota Inc., the business arm for Journey, and DD Entertainment LLC, a publicist/agent for Salahi and Schon.
The Salahis filed for divorce two months ago, but Tareq asserts his wife left him for Schon in September in an attempt to bump up interest -- and thus ticket sales -- for Journey's tour.
"Journey was currently touring the country and the concerts were not selling out," the complaint states. "Having been involved in the reality television business for several years, the defendants knew that a public affair would generate interest in both of them and immediate income for Neal Schon and Journey."
Journey was named 'Legend Of Live' at the 2011 Billboard Touring Awards, and last year was the classic rock band's biggest touring year in at least 20 years, raking in nearly $40 million from almost 700,000 tickets sold, according to Billboard Boxscore, 18th among all touring acts. Prior to 2011, the band had been on a growth trend, and in 2006 ranked 15th, with $33 million in gross and 728,078 tickets sold, according to Boxscore.
Schon was on hand in NYC to accept the Billboard touring honor, with his new girlfriend as his date.
The suit is not without its salty moments, and includes a claim that on Sept. 13 Schon sent Salahi a photo of a male body part he believed to belong to the rocker. It also alleges, "Your plaintiff… received a phone call that evening from someone who said, 'This is Neal, I am [expletive] your wife.'"
Salahi is asking for monetary and punitive damages. Lawyers for both Salahis declined to comment to the NV Daily. A representative for the band also declined to comment to Billboard about the lawsuit.
The Salahis first entered the public eye in 2009 when they crashed a state dinner at the White House. They later starred on Bravo's "Real Housewives of D.C."
Additional reporting by Ray Waddell in Nashville.