Splash News & Picture Agency filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday, citing not only the coronavirus pandemic, but “two ongoing litigation cases and the costs of defending these cases,” one of which involved Meghan Markle.
“As a consequence of the global pandemic the availability of celebrity images has declined and budgets within media companies have been cut to reflect wider macro-economic challenges,” president Emma Curzon said in a declaration reviewed by TheWrap. “This situation has been exacerbated by two ongoing litigation cases and the costs of defending these cases.”
Last year, Markle, who is married to Prince Harry, sued the agency over photos taken of her and the couple’s baby in a park. In December 2020, the British press reported that Splash had settled with the Duchess and agreed to no longer photograph the family, but Curzon indicated in the bankruptcy filing that the case is ongoing. She said that Splash “has sought to settle this matter,” but the parties have not been able to agree on a financial settlement.
“The case involves free speech related issues under United Kingdom law and, unfortunately, has proven to be too unbearably expensive for Splash to continue its defense,” she wrote. “Furthermore, if the plaintiffs were to prevail in that case it would likely result in a large attorney fee award against Splash.”
Former Splash employee Esmeralda Servin also sued the company in 2020, alleging in an August filing that she faced sexist comments during her time there and was fired after voicing various concerns to management.
Splash has also been known to be on the other end of legal battles: The agency has sued celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Liam Hemsworth for posting its paparazzi shots on social media.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.