Woodstock Not A Hsu Thing

It’s a long way from Max Yasgur’s farm to Wall Street, and no one knows that better than Woodstock co-creator and investment fund manager Joel Rosenman.

The entrepreneur who helped conceive the 1969 Woodstock festival as a for-profit concert almost lost his shirt when gatecrashers turned it into a free party for 400,000.

Fast forward to 2007, and the Wall Street Journal reports that his company, Source Financing Investors, may be out $40 million to onetime fugitive financier and political fund-raiser Norman Hsu.

Documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal reveal that a company controlled by Hsu recently received $40 million from SFI and is now missing, Rosenman told investors in a September 10th letter.

Hsu is under arrest after skipping out on a California court appearance for sentencing in a 15-year-old grand theft case that mirrors his entanglement with the onetime Woodstock producer. Hsu pleaded guilty to those charges in 1992 and promptly disappeared rather than face a sentencing hearing.

He turned himself in to California authorities to face the music in August, only to disappear again –getting only as far as Colorado Springs, Colo., before blowing his cover by getting ill on an Amtrak train.

Rosenman isn’t the only one Hsu is causing migraines for – his fund-raising work on behalf of a number of Democratic Party leaders, including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has caused a major political scandal since his California escapades came to light.

Hsu’s current troubles with SFI echo the scenario that resulted in the 1992 case, in which he was charged with grand theft for failing to repay investors for money he raised to import goods from China.

In Rosenman’s case, Hsu received the $40 million to pay Chinese manufacturers for high-end apparel that ultimately would be sold to Gucci, Prada and other private labels. According to the Journal, the business plan predicted a 40-percent yield on investments in the transaction, which represents 37 separate deals with Hsu’s company.

Instead of being repaid on the investment, SFI found the checks drawn on Hsu’s company were of the rubber variety, according to the paper.

"Norman Hsu has an extraordinary ability to deceive," Rosenman attorney Seth Rosenberg told the Journal. The company has notified the Manhattan District Attorney of the alleged swindle.

Rosenman’s career path, which took him from nightclub musician to TV writer to Woodstock to Wall Street, started with a 1967 pitch for a situation comedy called "Young Men With Unlimited Capital." The idea was based on his friendship with John Roberts – another Woodstock co-creator – who was the recipient of a large trust fund.

Eventually Rosenman and Roberts teamed with Artie Kornfeld and Michael Lang to produce the Woodstock festival in upstate New York. Although the festival was initially a disaster from an investment standpoint, the partners recouped their losses a decade later thanks to the hugely successful film documentary of the watershed event.

In the aftermath of Woodstock, Rosenman and Roberts opened, then sold a Manhattan recording studio and eventually opened a New York investment firm called JR Capital. Rosenman also co-produced the 25th anniversary festival, Woodstock ’94.