There were millions of dollars on the line for all of these stars.
Things can get messy in business, especially when fame and fortune is involved. That’s why finding the right management team is essential for celebrities — but it unfortunately doesn’t always work out.
Find out why these celebs took their managers to court…
In 2015, Shannen Doherty sued her management company — but her issues with her representation went far beyond business affairs. In the lawsuit, she accused her business manager, Tanner, Mainstain, Glynn & Johnson, of failing to properly secure her health insurance. In court documents, she claimed that Mainstain was supposed to pay her insurance premium to the Screen Actors Guild, but he failed to pay. When she was finally able to re-enroll, she discovered she had breast cancer that doctors say could have been stopped if she had seen a doctor earlier. In 2016, Shannen and the company reached an undisclosed settlement.
Nicolas Cage onced sued his ex-business manager Samuel J. Levin and his firm for $20 million, alleging that they gave him poor financial advice and mismanaged his money. Samuel, who worked for Nicolas from 2001 to 2008, countersued, claiming that the actor caused his own financial hardships — and he had warned him that his lavish lifestyle needed to be scaled back. In court documents, Samuel claimed that Nicolas was already “deeply in debt” when he started working for him because he had “already squandered tens of millions of dollars he had earned as a movie star.” Both cases were later dismissed.
Back in 2012, Rihanna took Berdon LLP to court for alleged mismanagement of funds, improper tax filing and taking “exorbitant” commissions from her concert tour, leading to significant financial losses. According to court documents, Rihanna alleged that the accounting firm took an above standard commission from her and caused major losses during her 2010 Last Girl on Earth Tour, despite the firm bringing in millions for themselves. In response, the company claimed that it was Rihanna’s spending habits that were to blame for her financial troubles. In the end, Rihanna agreed to settle the lawsuit, although the terms of the deal were not disclosed.
After Uma Thurman’s former financial advisor Kenneth Starr was sent to jail for his involvement in a Ponzi scheme, she sued him for $2.485 million. She blamed him for money she lost in risky investments and accused him of fraud. Uma says she was particularly not made aware of the risk involved in investing in security and technology company, GlobalOptions, as well as a company called Martini Park. She also claimed Kenneth had defrauded her between 2006 and 2008 to the tune of $485,000. The pair reportedly reached an agreement outside of court.
Alyssa Milano once sued her former business manager Kenneth Hellie and his firm, Hellie, Hoffer & Co. She and her husband filed a lawsuit, suing them for $10 million for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and theft. She additionally accused them of forging her signature on financial documents and failing to pay overdue bills and taxes. She says she was left millions of dollars in debt and with her credit ruined. Before the case went to trial, Alyssa and her business manager reached a confidential settlement for an undisclosed amount.
In 1989, Billy Joel filed a $90 million lawsuit against his former manager and brother-in-law, Frank Weber. Billy accused Frank of fraud, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and federal racketeering statute violations. In the lawsuit, Billy sought $30 million in compensatory damages and $60 million in punitive damages as well as the repayment of commissions that Frank received while working for him. The singer was then countersued by Frank but in the end, the judge dismissed the former manager’s lawsuit and Billy was awarded around $2 million.
In the early 2000s, Elton John sued his accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and his business manager, Andrew Haydon. He alleged they were negligent, had mismanaged millions of dollars and charged him for tour expenses that should have been covered by the firm. Unfortunately, the judge ruled in favor of the accountants and Elton was forced to pay an estimated $11.5 million in legal fees.
Sting had to take his former financial advisor, Keith Moore, to court. Over the course of the 15 years that Keith worked with the musician, he had set up around 100 bank accounts. Among many accusations, Keith was charged with illegally transferring a total of $7.8 million from one of Sting’s companies and investing the money in numerous speculative ventures. Overall, Keith swindled Sting out over $9 million. He was eventually sentenced to six years in prison.
Alanis Morissette sued her former business manager after he was discovered to have embezzled millions of dollars. In court, he was accused of wire fraud and filing a false tax return and eventually admitted to stealing nearly $5 million from Alanis over the course of seven years. He was sentenced to 72 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release in addition to outpatient addiction treatment and mental health counseling. He was also forced to pay $8.6 million in restitution.
In 2017, Johnny Depp sued his management team at The Management Group, alleging that they had spent millions of dollars without his permission. In court, Johnny sought $25 million in damages which included years of professional fees. The Management Group filed a countersuit, claiming that Johnny was responsible for his own financial troubles, sharing documentation of his millions spent on extravagant purchases. Before the case could go to trial, the group achieved a settlement agreement.