Promoter Loses $3.9M Appeal

Brit-based concert promoter Tony Hollingsworth has been ordered to repay the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) the 6 million Singapore dollars (US$3.9 million) it paid him for a show that didn’t happen.

An Appeal Court judge said the concert never got off the ground and that Hollingsworth had concocted an elaborate charade to dupe the STB into believing he could deliver the show, the Straits Times reported.

A Singapore High Court judge said in May that Hollingsworth had “never intended to hold the event” and ruled in favour of the STB. The promoter appealed.

However, the Court Of Appeal appeared to end the five-year saga Nov. 14 by upholding the original verdict.

Justice V.K. Rajah said the evidence showed Hollingsworth made no reasonable efforts to get financing for the event, which was to be called Listen Live, and instead worked behind STB’s back to stage the event in New York.

He said the “patent lack of effort” to secure artists and broadcasters was an example of the “carefully orchestrated pretence,” the Times said.

The exact amount Hollingsworth will be required to repay has yet to be determined.

Hollingsworth approached the Singapore government in 2003, pitching a charity campaign that would culminate in a concert. He said Listen Live would draw 20,000 tourists and bring in S$30 million ($19.64 million).

Celebrity names like Hollywood star Jamie Lee Curtis and Asian stars Wang Lee Hom, David Tao and Kit Chan were named as possible participants.

The event was to be beamed to about 500 million people worldwide and raise S$150 million ($98.21 million) for disadvantaged children.

In January 2006, Hollingsworth dropped a bombshell by canning the event because of a lack of core financing.
By this time, the STB had paid the S$6 million to Children’s Media, a vehicle set up by Hollingsworth to organise the event.

The STB sued Hollingsworth, Children’s Media and another of his companies, Tribute Third Millennium, to get the money back.

The defendants argued that the STB should not get its money back, as the agreement, which superseded two earlier ones, did not provide for a refund.

But Rajah found that before the third agreement was signed, Hollingsworth lied to the STB when he claimed core financing was secured.

The Court Of Appeal also held Hollingsworth personally liable for the refund, saying the companies were no more than “corporate puppets dancing to his tune.”

Andrew Zweck of Live Nation’s Sensible Events, who worked with Hollingsworth on two events in 1997, said the Singapore incident isn’t the first time one of Hollingsworth’s Tribute companies has been in trouble.

He signed a contract with Carlsberg for Tribute CL to produce an event to celebrate the brewer’s 150th anniversary, a show that left some London-based concert suppliers out of pocket.

“The concert took place at Wembley Stadium and 68,000 tickets were sold, which generated a lot of income in addition to what Carlsberg put in,” Zweck recalls. “However, despite the financial success of the event, the company went into liquidation with hundreds of thousand of pounds worth of debt, mainly due to suppliers in the concert industry around London.”

Later that year, his Tribute Moscow company was given about S$5 million to produce the city’s 850th anniversary celebrations.

But Tribute Moscow also went bust and Hollingsworth failed to deliver the show he promised.

Moscow show producer Andrei Konchalovsky, who was instrumental in sourcing some of the money, later took High Court action in London, suing Hollingsworth for the fees he was owed.