Woodstock 50 organizers are suing their former financial partner Dentsu Group and several of its affiliates, accusing the company of “destruction of the festival” and “sabotage.” In the complaint filed on Wednesday in New York Supreme Court obtained by Rolling Stone, the plaintiffs seek tens of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.
The three-day festival, which was intended to mark the 50th landmark anniversary of the storied 1969 event, was slated to take place August 16th-18th, 2019, but it was marred with a number of publicly aired setbacks and legal battles, including Dentsu and the festival legally severing ties last April, when Dentsu pulled its financial backing and also initially canceled the festival, which festival organizers argued Dentsu did not have the legal right to do.
Among the allegations in the new filing, it alleges that “Dentsu Group and its affiliates Dentsu Aegis Network and MKTG are directly responsible for the destruction of the Woodstock 50 Anniversary Festival,” and that non-party Amplifi Live, LLC, who is an affiliate of Dentsu Group “that governed the terms of the production of the festival” “breached that agreement.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, a spokesperson for Dentsu denied Woodstock 50 organizers’ claims. “Dentsu’s affiliate, Amplifi Live, acted in the best interest of the public last year after Woodstock 50 breached its agreement,” a rep for Amplifi Live said. “After a full evidentiary hearing, the court credited Amplifi Live’s evidence that a safe and profitable festival could not be mounted, and therefore refused to order Amplfi Live to continue funding the project.
“That decision was affirmed on appeal. The parties are about to engage in an arbitration hearing, but Woodstock 50 prefers baseless claims in press releases rather than to have the parties’ dispute decided by arbitrators,” Amplifi Live continued. “Amplfi Live is vigorously defending these claims in arbitration and pursuing breach and fraud claims against Woodstock 50. Amplifi Live and its parent and affiliates will vigorously defend Woodstock 50’s eleventh-hour effort to escape the arbitration forum. Woodstock 50 does not represent the Woodstock brand, having lost that license, and the claims in this new filing have no merit and are improper.”
The new complaint claims that after Dentsu attempted to cancel the event in April 2019, that it also allegedly interfered with the festival’s ability to stage the festival without Dentsu. “Dentsu’s wrongful actions to defame Woodstock 50 were undertaken for the purpose of preventing other parties from attending, financing or participating in the Festival, and were intended to and did ensure that the Festival failed and Woodstock 50 could make no profit from the Festival,” the complaint alleges. “Absent Dentsu’s wrongful actions, Woodstock 50 would have been able to successfully produce the Festival, and further monetize the Festival through media and sponsorship deals and future licensing deals relating to the Festival.”
“Despite Woodstock 50’s best efforts, Dentsu’s sabotage was effective and complete, and directly resulted in huge damages to Woodstock 50,” the suit claims. “As a result of Dentsu’s egregious conduct, Woodstock 50 is entitled to tens of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.”
Woodstock 50 was initially slated to take place in Watkins Glen International in New York in August 2019, but by June the venue had pulled out. Other locations, including New York’s Vernon Downs and as well as Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion were considered, but with many artists dropping out, the festival officially was canceled mere weeks before when it was supposed to kick-off.