David Bergstein has sued Miramax investors over his role negotiating the 2010 deal with Disney for the rights to independent studio behind "The English Patient" and "Pulp Fiction."
The film financier claims that he is owed tens of millions of dollars for his part in structuring and negotiating the $660 million purchase of the indie label. He has named Miramax Chairman Richard Nanula, Colony Capital and Filmyard Holdings in a suit filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
"It was Bergstein who recognized the unique and lucrative opportunity and the hidden value in Miramax, when the rest of the market believed that Disney was overvaluing it," the suit reads. "Bergstein brought the opportunity to non-party Ronald Tutor, and, during six months of negotiations with Disney, led the effort to evaluate, perform diligence on and value Miramax and its film library."
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Yet Bergstein says he was never adequately compensated for his efforts in helping to orchestrate the sale. In the suit, he also alleges fraud, promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment among other causes of action.
He claims that he was paid $6.1 million when the deal for Miramax closed, but was owed an additional $6.1 million after the company completed a re-financing last year. Miramax was reportedly appraised at $825 million at that time.
Bergstein also said that he received a 3.3 percent interest in Filmyard for his work putting the Miramax deal together. In the suit, he alleges that the group misled lenders about the role he was playing in the company in working with Miramax employees and initiating licensing deals with companies like Netflix.
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A spokeswoman for Nanula and Colony declined to comment and noted that the company and her client have not been served.
Bergstein has been a controversial figure in the movie industry in recent years. He has been involved in a bruising legal battle against film financier David Molner and a list of creditors that includes director Taylor Hackford, the Writers Guild of America West and the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas for alleged unpaid bills.
Bergstein said that Nanula and other investors planned to use the bad publicity surrounding his legal problems as a way to keep from honoring their deal.
"They figured that I wasn't in a position to defend myself," Bergstein told TheWrap. "They can try to trade on my bad press as much as they want. The documents are the documents and it's not going to help them."
Construction magnate Ron Tutor and his group of partners created Filmyard Holdings to finance the deal for Miramax and control the studio after the sale was complete. Colony Capital, an investment firm, was one of investors; Nanula, a former Disney exec, was a principal at Colony and involved in negotiations.
Bergstein did not list Tutor specifically in the suit. Bergstein and Tutor have a business relationship that dates back over a decade involving various film industry investments.
"I have no beef with Ron," Bergstein told TheWrap. "Ron and the other shareholders told Richard Nanula to honor the agreement."
The law firm Weingarten Brown LLP is representing Bergstein and Exodus Film Company in the suit.
“David Bergstein created this deal, it would never have happened if not for his efforts,” Alex Weingarten, Bergstein's attorney, said in a statement. “He is guaranteed fees and an equity interest in Miramax pursuant to written agreements setting forth his rights."
Bergstein said he plans to amend the filing to include Colony's attorney Joshua Grode as a defendant.
Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.