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Woodstock 50 fails to claim back withdrawn funding

By | Published on Monday 24 June 2019

Woodstock 50

An appeals court in the US has ruled that marketing group Dentsu is not obliged to return $18.5 million to the bank account of the Woodstock 50 event.

Dentsu was the original financial backer of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Woodstock festival, but it bailed on the project in April. Arguing that issues and delays meant that it was now impossible for Woodstock 50 to go ahead in August as planned, it cancelled the festival and took back the $18.5 million that was, at that time, still in the bank account it had set up for paying the event’s bills.

The Woodstock company said that Dentsu had no right to unilaterally cancel its 50th anniversary bash. And when it went legal, a court concurred that the agreement between Woodstock and Dentsu did not allow the latter to call the event off. However, the court added, Dentsu was allowed to pull out of the project and take its money with it.

Woodstock’s lawyers appealed the latter part of that judgement and an appeals judge subsequently ordered Dentsu to put the $18.5 million in an escrow account while the dispute went through the motions. But last week the appeals court, having given the case more scrutiny, concluded that the marketing firm was entitled to take its money back after it had decided it no longer wanted to participate in the Woodstock 50 venture.

According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, last week’s ruling from the appeals court did not include any explanation for the decision, but ordered that Dentsu get its money back.

A legal rep for Woodstock 50, Marc Kasowitz, previously said that his clients needed access to the $18.5 million because it was “necessary for the production of the festival”. However, on Friday he insisted that, even though the appeals court had ruled against the festival on that cash, the event was still going ahead on the original dates as planned.

Of course, since the falling out between Woodstock and Dentsu, the venue due to host Woodstock 50 also pulled out. Organisers say that they will definitely find an alternative location, and – again according to the Poughkeepsie Journal – it looks likely that that new site will be a casino and race track complex called Vernon Downs. The move to the new site will likely require another cut-back on the capacity for Woodstock 50 – a previous down-sizing having been one of the issues Dentsu had with the project.