Woodstock 50 – the epic event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic 1969 festival – was officially called-off last year due to several setbacks. Now, the organizers behind the event have filed a lawsuit against their former financial partner for its “destruction of the festival.”
According to a complaint filed on Wednesday in New York Supreme Court – obtained by Rolling Stone – the Woodstock 50 organizers are seeking tens of millions of dollars in both compensatory and punitive damages. The suit follows several legal battles between organizers and their financial backing partner Dentsu Aegis Network. During the months leading up to the festival, Dentsu, who were funding the event, released a statement noting that they don’t believe the festival could be “executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name.” They announced that the festival was cancelled.
However, creator and organizer Michael Lang vehemently denied those claims, noting that “Woodstock never belonged to Dentsu, so they don’t have the right to cancel it.” Lang said at the time that he was still working with several partners ahead of the event. However, after losing their financial backer, venue, and a slew of artists – as well as a last-minute change of location to Maryland – Lang and his team were forced to officially call-off the celebration.
The suit claims that “Dentsu Group and its affiliates Dentsu Aegis Network and MKTG are directly responsible for the destruction of the Woodstock 50 Anniversary Festival,” noting that its non-party affiliate Amplify Live, LLC that “governed the terms of the production of the festival,” “breached that agreement.” It goes on to note that Dentsu allegedly interfered with the festival’s ability to stage the event 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,” organizers allege in the complaint. “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 relation to the Festival.”
A representative for Amplifi Live denied these claims, telling Rolling Stone in a statement that the court had credited Amlifi Live’s evidence “that a safe and profitable festival could not be mounted,” refusing Amplifi Live to continue funding the event.
“That decision was affirmed on appeal,” Amplifi Live continued. “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 is rigorously defending these claims in arbitration and pursuing breach and fraud claims against Woodstock 50.”
Organizers say that due to “Dentsu’s egregious conduct, Woodstock 50 is entitled to tens of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.”
Woodstock 50 was slated to take place at Watkins Glen International in August 29, featuring performances from huge music acts like The Black Keys, Miley Cyrus, Halsey, The Killers, Jay-Z, and Imagine Dragons, as well as Woodstock veterans Dead & Company, Robert Plant, and Santana.