Former Colony Capital CEO Thomas Barrack, a longtime ally of Donald Trump who was arrested on Tuesday on seven federal criminal charges, has long had ties to Hollywood beyond his home in Santa Monica.
A decade ago, the 74-year-old private equity real estate investor partnered with construction magnate Ronald Tutor and the Qatar Investment authority to buy Miramax from Disney for $660 million. He served as chairman of company, mostly signing licensing deals for the 700-film library of Oscar-winning titles without producing much new content.
The one-time indie giant had fallen on hard times after the 2005 exit of founding partners Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who attempted to buy back the company from Barrack and his partners. Instead, Barrack sold Miramax in 2016 to the Qatar-based beIN Media Group for an undisclosed amount.
Barrack, who founded Colony Capital in 1990, continued to explore Hollywood ventures in the last decade — and even saved Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch from foreclosure in 2008. (After several stints on and off the market, that property finally sold to Ron Burkle for $22 million in 2020.)
Barrack’s Colony Capital announced a plan to bail out the beleaguered Weinstein Company in October 2017 — just days after sexual harassment and assault accusations forced the abrupt ouster of company co-founder Harvey Weinstein. However, Colony Capital pulled out of the planned deal less than two weeks later, in part because the company could not figure out a way to invest in the company without personally enriching Harvey Weinstein.
More recently, in 2019, Colony Capital was reported to be in talks to purchase Legendary Entertainment, a Burbank-based film and TV company owned by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group. A deal never materialized.
It wasn’t the first time Colony kicked the tires on a big Hollywood investment. In 2011, the company had also circled the “American Pie” and “Twilight” studio Summit Entertainment before Lionsgate swooped in for $412.5 million. And the following year, Colony was among 40 potential bidders for Dick Clark Productions — which went to Guggenheim Partners, Mandalay Entertainment and Mosaic Media Investment Partners for $350 million.
But more recently, Colony Capital — rebranded as DigitalBridge last month — has focused on digital infrastructure with investments in cellphone-tower companies and the airport WiFi service Boingo. It’s also been moving to extricate itself from the cloud brought by criminal investigations into Barrack, who stepped down as CEO last year and then as executive chairman in March 2021.
Barrack, who chaired former President Trump’s 2017 inauguration fund, was indicted with two others of seven counts of unlawfully trying to influence the foreign policy positions of the Trump campaign and administration to advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates, according to the Justice Department. Barrack was also charged with obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements to federal agents.
A representative for Barrack did not respond a request for comment, but his attorney said he would plead not guilty. DigitalBridge did not immediately respond to a request for comment.