The Walt Disney Company has entered into exclusive negotiations with David Bergstein and his financial partners to sell their arthouse division Miramax, TheWrap has learned.
Disney’s negotiations with the Weinstein Company and Ron Burkle broke down over a week ago.
Since then, Disney has been negotiating actively with billionaire brothers Alec and Tom Gores and with Bergstein, who is backed by L.A. construction billionaire Ron Tutor and two other unnamed individuals.
Bergstein had previously raised his bid from $650 million for the studio.
In an interview with TheWrap in mid-April, the day that Disney went into exclusive talks with Weinstein, Bergstein said: "Our bid was in fact $650 million, all cash. We said we would increase our price, slightly at the terms. I told them I might be able to. I didn’t say absolutely. But for me, and for the group, it’s not an emotional decision. I won’t die if we don’t get the asset."
But Bergstein is an extremely controversial figure.The producer and financier faces litigation from more than a dozen creditors in the United States. He has been declared bankrupt in England, and currently a court-appointed trustee is going through the assets of some of his companies to determine what can be paid his creditors, which include most of the major Hollywood guilds. He is widely disliked, and distrusted, within the industry.
Disney has been hoping for as much as $700 million for Miramax. And indeed, six weeks ago, as negotiations with three bidders starting climbing to a fever pitch, bidding inched up from $600 million to $625 million — and in the case of Bergstein, it went higher than $650 million.
The price stayed at around that level when Burkle and the Weinstein brothers entered into several weeks of exclusive negotiations. But a breakdown occured when the bidders poured over Miramax’s revenue figures and found discrepancies that led Burkle’s finance experts to conclude they could not justify the higher valuation.
Burkle cut his offer to $565 million, and that led to the end of negotiations.
Read previously: Big, Bad Bergstein: ‘I Don’t Care for the Movie Business