Serbian promoter Dragan Vujin has canceled a Jose Carreras show in the 18,000-capacity Belgrade Arena at five days’ notice, leaving about 2,500 fans looking for a refund.
Ticketline event administrator Nevena Gojkojvic said the company will begin paying back the money October 15, by which time she hopes Vujin will have returned the amounts that have been advanced to him.
It’s not been possible for Pollstar to verify if this will happen, as phone calls to Vujin were unanswered and e-mails are being automatically returned with a note saying he’s "away until October 22."
Vujin, who tried to raise sponsorship for a summer festival by claiming he had acts that he actually hadn’t booked, arranged for Jose Carreras to play Belgrade Arena in August.
Although aware of Vujin’s reputation for trumpeting shows that don’t happen, Belgrade Arena chief George Milutinovic agreed to the hire as long as the promoter complied with the venue contract and paid all deposits on time.
"They’re AEG Live and I’m just AEG," was Vujin’s response when Milutinovic questioned the company name and its similarity to the Los Angeles-based global music firm.
Vujin’s now trading as AEG Group, although the Roadfest he tried to set up in the summer – when he used Woodstock co-founder Artie Kornfeld’s name to promote the event – was done through a company called SFL Europe.
The arena took a 10 percent deposit on the estimated euro 30,000 fee and a further 10 percent when Vujin switched the date to October 2.
The tickets were priced between euro 25 and euro 125, with special box seats at euro 300, twice the amount that Milutinovic, who has put on Carreras shows in the past, would have charged for such an event.
Five days before the show that second date, Vujin phoned the venue and said it had to be canceled because he was having problems shipping in some PA equipment from Germany.
Milutinovic was suspicious of the reason for the cancellation because his experience as a promoter told him it could be done in 24 hours with the right paperwork.
When he realised the situation had slipped beyond repair, he called a Sunday morning press conference on September 30 to explain why Carreras wouldn’t be appearing at the venue.
He then discovered that Vujin had set up a press conference of his own for an hour earlier at the city’s Regency Hyatt Hotel.
Journalists who attended that conference heard that the Carreras show would be switched to another venue and take place December 2. They suggested it would be best if the conference was switched to the arena to enable all the press to be at both.
Vujin agreed but didn’t follow the media to the venue. Milutinovic says he’s been "playing hide and seek with him" ever since.
Rosi Pritz, who has looked after the famous tenor’s affairs for 20 years, said she had agreed to show some latitude when it came to paying deposits, but regrets that now because Vujin didn’t pay any money up front.
"I did get what looked like a copy of a SWIFT transfer from a Serbian bank but no actual money ever showed up," she told Pollstar.
She also said there are no plans for Carreras to return to Belgrade on December 2.