Friday 24 January 2020

Cat gets cream as gig pull-out case settled for a Princely €1m

Jason O'Brien and Ken Sweeney

HE'S the cat that got the cream.

Music promoter Denis Desmond was licking his lips last night after a legal action he took against the pop star Prince and his agent was settled for what is understood to be in excess of €1m.

MCD had sued the singer and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment for €1.7m over the cancellation of a gig in Croke Park in June 2008. Some 55,000 tickets had already been sold for the event when it was called off with less than two weeks' notice.

There had been three days of evidence this week at the Commercial Court but, following talks early yesterday, Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told that the matter had been settled.

The details have not been disclosed but it is understood that MCD will receive well in excess of €1m.

Afterwards, Mr Desmond would only say he was "delighted" and that his MCD company would not be "out of pocket" as a result of the "unique" cancelled event.

He went on to say that he was disappointed for fans who didn't get to see "the great performer", but didn't rule out working again with the enigmatic star. "There are no hard feelings," he added.

The pop star did not appear at the hearing but a unique insight into his lifestyle was given through evidence by various executives of William Morris who attended his Beverly Hills home as they tried to get confirmation that Prince would play Dublin and elsewhere.

At one stage, his agent Keith Sarkisian claimed that, when Prince was told of Mr Desmond's concerns about a possible cancellation, the singer said: "Tell the cat to chill, we will work something out".

Grinning like the proverbial Cheshire outside the Four Courts yesterday after the settlement, Mr Desmond said, "The cat's very chilled".

"I'm delighted with the result but still disappointed for the fans that the show did not happen," he told the Irish Independent last night.

"I regard Prince as a great live performer. I'm also very happy that the allegation that the losses incurred were inflated was proved to be unfounded."

In a witness statement supplied to the court, Prince had said he "considered" performing several dates as part of a European Tour.

This was to coincide with the release of a new album and his agents "understood and agreed" they would "try" to arrange "several dates" for performances in key European cities, he said.

In late February 2008, after being told he would receive $3m to perform in Croke Park, he said he confirmed he would be interested in "doing Dublin".

But he insisted that William Morris would have known that he meant Dublin was "acceptable" as part of a European tour. He said the agency would have been aware that he was "still in the negotiation phase".

He argued that William Morris had no authority to bind him to the Croke Park gig.

William Morris, in turn, had argued that it had received emails from the star's personal assistant, Ruth Arzate, in February confirming the Dublin gig, and negotiations then centred on adding gigs -- including in Denmark and Holland.

The agency claimed the decision to cancel the Dublin event was outside of its control and had denied negligence, breach of duty and misrepresentation.


The court heard this week that at the end of 2007, there were offers of $22m for seven performances across Europe.

The agency said it was only made aware Prince would not be performing the Dublin concert in early June 2008.

No "specific" reason was given as to why Prince wished to cancel but the court heard the pop star allegedly told one of the agents: "You know I don't work like that", and that he would not be performing a "one-off" gig which was not part of any European tour.

Irish Independent

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