Figure Skating Champ Oksana Baiul Sues WME, Others for $170M – Alleges Widespread Theft

Figure Skating Champ Oksana Baiul Sues WME, Others for $170M – Alleges Widespread Theft

The Lillehammer gold medalist says the agency and a small army of reps brazenly siphoned her earnings for nearly 20 years

Ukranian figure skater Oksana Baiul has sued WME and a long list of plaintiffs — including several agents, accountants and the Screen Actors Guild — for a total of more than $170 million, alleging widespread fraud and theft of millions of dollars she says she earned in the years-long media blitz that followed her gold medal performance at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.

Filed Tuesday in New York's state Supreme Court, the lawsuit levels 18 counts including racketeering, breach of contract, fraudulent concealment and intentional misrepresentation.

Baiul originally sued WME last year in Superior Court in Los Angeles, but dismissed that action — which only sought $1 million in compensatory damages and more in punitive damages — before re-filing her much broader case in New York, which was obtained Friday by TheWrap.

Also read: Geraldo Rivera Sued by Former Agency WME

The case alleges that beginning in 1994, when Baiul became a household name at age 16, William Morris (before its merger with Endeavor) and a small army of agents, accountants and attorneys took advantage of her age and lack of English skills, swooping in to represent her and then concealing or outright stealing tens of thousands of dollars at a time.

Bauil's lawsuit says she only became aware of the alleged longstanding theft and fraud after hiring a new accountant in 2011, who began trying to collect her due from the agency and the associated companies.

WME did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment Friday. The defendants have 20 days to respond to the lawsuit.

Baiul, who now lives in Bucks County, Penn., claims in the suit that the theft began when she was whisked to a training facility in Connecticut after her win and had her passport taken away — just as several agencies swooped in to represent her budding media career. Besides never being properly compensated for her promotion of the facility, Baiul alleges that she was never paid, or was severely underpaid, for a broad range of appearances including films, TV and public ice-skating performances.

Also read: Christopher Nolan Sues WME, CAA as Agencies Battle for His Commissions

She's seeking a series of damage amounts specific to the various defendants, ranging from $56 million and interest from WME, five of its agents and several promotional companies who dealt with the agency during her earning years; $41 million-plus-interest from those and other entities; and no less than $1 million from SAG.

Because of her entertainment activities, Baiul was a member of the guild – which she claims in the lawsuit “acted in an arbitrary and/or discriminatory manner” toward her by failing to credit her for her work, resulting in the loss of benefits and pensions.

The various damage claims, including interest, total more than $170 million, according to the court filing.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

  • greaser1977

    Ithink LAWSUIT should be the new reality series along with Shark Tank and Survivor….in face WHERE THE HELL IS SURVIVOR HOLLYWOOD?

  • Jim Antwerp

    We'll never forgive you for what you did to Nancy Kerrigan – America.

  • JJ truth

    Hmmn, exploitation tales in the entertainment industry are still alive today. Wonder why this story hasn't been covered on the entertainment news shows like Access Hollywood & Entertainment Tonight? This is the true story about Oksana Baiul. This goes on to prove just how phony E True Hollywood is because it never mentioned one iota of what was really going on with this skater.

  • DLV90210

    Disgusting! Amazed that for what 20 years “respected” sports journalists have bullied the hell out of her and none of them has reported about this. I pulled the complaint from NY court website and read the first part of the lawsuit (it's long). Shocked, only William Morris is getting named and noone mentions it is a damn RICO (as in mob) criminal case involved that evil coach Galina Zmevskiya, Olympian Viktor Petrenko, his wife Nina, NBC, Ukrainian Government and like 20 others were in on stealing all her money and while she was a minor. This woman has lived a life so dramatic, soap opera writers couldn't come up with the insanity she's endured.
    JJ Truth btw, agree with you! At least The Wrap has the guts to write about it while the rest of hollywood and sports media are all quiet as a mouse.
    Oksana Baiul I pray for you strength and success! You entertained us all for years, on behalf of the entire American public, we apologize! Isn't William Morris buying IMG? Hopefully they aren't doing this to other young entertainers, but where there's smoke…

    • JJ truth

      Thanks.

  • Herbii

    After looking into this case myself, albeit few months old I guess I should say I am not shocked…but we all should be.. the evidence is soooo overwhelming that multiple people took advantage of her name, likeness and never receiving a cent or a fraction… just horrible.. I hope she gets her money.. I mean think of it.. imagine the 10 closest people around you made literally millions of dollars off your name and what you accomplished but you only received a few thousand… I cant imagine how she must feel…probably surreal.. I am also surprised this ismt bigger news.. probably bc its industry standard and the journalists dont want to out themselves..