Stiffed By Seabreeze

Former Deep Purple manager John Coletta appears to have “disappeared” with up to half-a-million dollars of box office money, following the cancellation of the second half of a series of shows he was promoting in Spain.

English language weekly paper Sur is reporting that Coletta and his Seabreeze Productions Espana S.L. can’t be reached on any of their three listed telephone numbers, while the local Diario de Malaga referred to him as an “estafador” (or frausdster) and said he’s en paradero desconocido – roughly the Spanish equivalent of vanishing into thin air.

Along with Costa Del Sol News, both papers are saying that around 200 of the ticket-holders who bought Seabreeze’s canceled Jamiroquai or Bryan Adams dates have hired consumer lawyer Francisco Damián Vázquez Jiménez to bring a class action to “recuperate the money paid and damages done.”

Spanish media estimates suggest that around euro 600,000 was paid by would-be concert-goers who now hold worthless tickets.

Jiménez urges anyone in possession of one of the tickets to hold onto it, and invites all affected consumers to join the class-action group by sending an e-mail to [email protected].

He advises that all those doing so should provide their personal information and the identification number and price of their tickets, as well as any other related expenses they incurred (travel, accommodation, etc.).

Jiménez said his clients will be open to out-of-court negotiations with Seabreeze, provided Coletta’s company makes itself available and is willing to come to appropriate terms. If that doesn’t work, he’s reported as saying, “We will have to file a lawsuit or even charges for fraud.”

He may even go for Tick Tack Tickets, the agency that’s likely to have handled most of the box-office business. He feels that company has an obligation to make a refund.

Jiménez insists that – as the intermediary that sold the tickets – Tick Tack also shares some responsibility to the ticket purchasers.

Tick Tack is telling the papers that it was also a victim of Seabreeze’s failure and disappearance.

Tick Tack’s Eugenio Casamilia said the company is suing for the return of some euro 300,000 that it passed on to Seabreeze.

“As well as the ticket money, we will also demand compensation for damages because our reputation has been flawed,” Casamilia told Sur. He added that he’s been in touch with Jamiroquai’s manager (“We believe that they ought to know that their reputation could also have been damaged by this situation.”)

Tick Tack claims it asked for the money owed three times in writing, but – so far – there’s been no response.

“When there is a cancellation it is the promoter who has to return the money; we pay it back as soon as we receive it; we are merely the administrators,” Casamilia told Sur.

After Elton John, Rod Stewart and Lenny Kravitz had performed shows that did little better than half fill the 15,000-capacity Mijas racecourse, in the height of summer and at the heart of one of Europe’s biggest tourist magnets, a UB40 show scheduled for the middle of July was canceled for what Seabreeze described as being “logistic reasons.”

For the UB40 show, it only took a couple of days for Seabreeze to start refunding the ticket money.

However, the story has been different with the latest cancellations. On August 5, the evening before Jamiroquai was due to play the Mijas racetrack, Seabreeze put out a press release saying it would provide more information on the cancellation as soon as “the relevant reports from our legal advisers have been obtained.”

Since August 5, Coletta and Seabreeze look to have been filed as en paradero desconocido.

Although Seabreeze had blamed the cancellations on “circumstances beyond our control,” it’s rapid disappearance suggests the reasons behind such a drastic decision may have been financial. The risk of starting the season with such high-guarantee acts as Rod Stewart and Elton John doesn’t look to have paid off at the box office.

As well as Jamiroquai, the other performances to have been canceled are the Bryan Adams concert scheduled for September 11 and the English National Orchestra on September 24-25.

Thousands of tickets had been sold for the Jamiroquai event and fans had travelled from all over Spain to see them. Even the band members themselves were reported to have been in Mijas and ready to perform. It was originally announced that ticket money would be returned at the sales outlets where they were purchased. So far, that hasn’t happened.

Barry Dickins from Clear Channel’s London-based International Talent Booking, which represents Rod Stewart, Jamiroquai, Lenny Kravitz and UB40, did not return Pollstar’s phone calls.

Carl Leighton-Pope, head of the London-based Leighton-Pope Organisation and agent for Bryan Adams, told Pollstar, “John Coletta has been in the business a long time and is well-known. I got a call from him saying he’d moved to Spain, everything was set up for a series of shows and that he wanted Bryan Adams.

“The offer was acceptable and the date fitted with another scheduled for Gran Canaria, and so we agreed the show.

“I chased them up to get a marketing plan and they came back to me and said they had posters and handbills in Spanish and English, and that Malaga would be full at this time of year and everything would be fine.

“Then I got a call warning me that the show would be off and, when I checked it out, I got confirmation that it was canceled. Now, the [Seabreeze] phones are dead and I can’t get hold of anybody.”

Seabreeze Productions has three official addresses in Estepona, all with their corresponding telephone numbers, but Pollstar‘s repeated attempts to contact them failed. The ticket sales outlets, the Spanish newspapers and the ticket holders themselves don’t seem to be doing any better.

Both Mijas Town Hall and the managers of the Mijas racecourse, Majestic S.L., look to have made it clear to the Spanish press that they have had nothing to do with the cancellations, saying it was a “unilateral decision” made by Seabreeze.

Meanwhile the director of the racecourse, Frank Mani, pointed out that he’d never imagined that a “situation such as this” could occur.

“The contract with Seabreeze stated that we provided the venue and organised access,” he told Spanish papers.

— John Gammon