Azoff To The Rescue
Ted Forstmann, the chairman of sports and event management company IMG, couldn’t find a better friend than Irving Azoff.
Forstmann found himself the defendant in a lawsuit that accuses him of some salacious stuff – betting against his own clients, using derogatory terms for African Americans and Jews, and procuring “escorts.”
The allegations come from Jim Agate, owner of Agate Printing. According to the lawsuit, Agate’s company acted as a go-between, placing bets for Forstmann and making arrangements for escort services.
The lawsuit is motivated by Forstmann’s alleged breach of an agreement to give the printing company business in return for the help. Forstmann also allegedly stiffed the company by making it responsible for tax liabilities on gambling.
And the gambling? Forstmann allegedly got a call from client Roger Federer in 2007 just before the tennis star played a match against Rafael Nadal at the French Open and, based upon that “inside information,” Forstmann laid down $40,000 on his sports client. However, Federer lost the match.
Forstmann also managed golf stars Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods but, during what is presumed to be match play between the two, Forstmann bet on Singh – or, as the lawsuit puts it, “against” client Woods.
Enter Azoff, a longtime golfing buddy of Forstmann. The Live Nation executive chairman has been known lately for his tweets but this time he brought out the word processor and provided a lengthy defense of Forstmann to the Daily Beast (owned by outgoing Live Nation Entertainment board chairman Barry Diller).
Azoff focused on litigation privilege – an attorney’s right to make claims during the course of a legal case without fear of civil prosecution. It can be used for good but, as Azoff notes, can be used to defame without fear of retribution.
Azoff dissected the accusations against his friend Teddy. He began by listing Forstmann’s good deeds, like transporting injured children in Bosnia to hospitals in Croatia, helping street children in South Africa with the support of Nelson Mandela and providing $50 million to the Children’s Scholarship Fund.
As for the derogatory comments toward blacks, Azoff notes Forstmann has two adopted black South African sons, now in their 20s. “He is dating a well-known woman born in India whose skin is brown,” he adds.
Azoff says Forstmann has no recollection of talking to Federer prior to the French Open match.
“But even if he did, what ‘inside’ information could Federer possibly have served up to his friend? That he was feeling good?” Azoff asks. “While on this subject, Teddy sponsored V.J. Singh on the PGA tour for more than 10 years, and that sponsorship was in the millions. That meant, of course, that Singh played every tournament with the name of Ted’s company on his shirt. Do you think for a moment Teddy didn’t root for him to win? Of course he did.”
Azoff said he has played golf with the “desperate and destitute” James Agate, who approached Azoff to do business with him.
zoff asked around. “According to statements in the media and information provided to us, Agate has had 42 addresses in the last 20 years; has been evicted from several of those residences; has 19 judgments and liens filed against him; owes nearly $1 million in back taxes; and owns a printing firm that, until the last couple of months, had a suspended business license.”
He also said that Forstmann’s attorneys are in talks with law enforcement officials about whether to file extortion charges against Agate because, as soon as the lawsuit was reported, Agate wrote to defendant, “I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to settle our dispute without [the lawyers’] interference.”
Agate wrote a letter to Forstmann in 2007 apologizing for his behavior up to that point, including “erratic and harassing emails,” and said, “I deeply regret falsely attacking your character and falsely describing your activities to many people.”