March 29th, 2013

David LaChapelle’s Former Agent Counter Sues for $75 Million

In what appears to be a tit for tat legal action in a messy business divorce, celebrity and pop art photographer David LaChapelle has been hit with a $75 million lawsuit by the former manager he sued last year for about $3.5 million.

Fred Torres, who managed LaChapelle’s relationships with clients, galleries and museums until last fall, alleges that the photographer breached their photographer/agent agreement, stole Torres’s customer lists, and is refusing to pay millions of dollars in expenses and commissions due to Torres.

Torres filed his lawsuit March 27 in state supreme court in Manhattan.

He alleges that LaChapelle fired him without notice, destroying Torres’s reputation and business in the process. Torres claims that he’s owed more than $5 million in expenses for printing LaChapelle’s work for exhibitions and print sales, and upwards of $20 million in past and future commissions for exhibition contracts and print sales that he brokered.

Torres also claims that LaChapelle surreptitiously hired away Torres’s employees in order to help him (LaChapelle) steal Torres customers lists and other proprietary data. Torres values the stolen information at $40-50 million.

“In or about mid-2012, the photographer defendants created a plan to try to steal [Torres's] extensive share of proceeds and steal its business,” Torres says in the lawsuit.

In addition to naming LaChapelle as a defendant, Torres also names the Paul Kasmin Gallery, which is LaChapelle’s new exclusive agent, and the former employees who allegedly conspired with LaChapele to steal customers lists and stored prints.

Torres is seeking $55 million in damages from the Paul Kasmin Gallery.

The damage claims include punitive damage, because the alleged actions of the defendants were “the product of malice, ill will, and spite,” Torres says in court papers.

Torres says in his lawsuit that he dated LaChapelle in the 1990s, after which they continued a business relationship. In 2008, when Torres opened a gallery and began representing works by other photographers, too, he and LaChapelle signed a brief written agreement to formalize their business relationship.

LaChapelle claimed in his lawsuit against Torres late last year that Torres was withholding $2.8 million owed to LaChapelle for sales of his prints. He also alleged that Torres owed him $755,000 worth of personal loans, and that Torres was refusing to return 800 exhibitions prints that were stashed in storage facilities around the world.

LaChapelle’s claim against Torres is still pending, and the photographer has not yet responded to Torres’s counter-claim.

Related:
David LaChapelle Sues Former Manager
David LaChapelle Sued for $3 Million by Former Gallerist
Rihanna Settles Copyright Lawsuit with David LaChapelle
PPE 2012: David LaChapelle Gets Personal

March 7th, 2013

David LaChapelle Sued for $3 Million by Gallerist

A Montana gallerist has sued David LaChapelle for $3 million dollars, alleging the photographer attacked him in his Manhattan apartment on March 9, 2012.

The suit, filed yesterday by James Parmenter in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges that in the middle of the night, LaChapelle threw Permanter around his apartment, choked him “nearly to the point of unconsciousness,” then threw him out into the street. He is suing LaChapelle for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is seeking a minimum of $1 million for each cause of action.

A digital copy of Parmenter’s lawsuit is available here.

Parmenter is the director of Bigfork Collaborations in Bigfork, Montana. According to an article in a local newspaper, the gallery space was funded by Fred Torres, a gallerist and LaChapelle’s former manager. In December 2012, LaChapelle filed a lawsuit against Torres, claiming that Torres owed him more than $2.8 million from the sales of of LaChapelle’s works and from a personal loan.

In the suit filed yesterday, Permanter claims that he is still experiencing physical and emotional difficulties as a result of the assault.