REBECCA Update: 'Almost' Angel Investor Revealed
Earlier this week, REBECCA producer Ben Sprecher filed a lawsuit, available here, against Broadway press agent Marc Thibodeau for acting as a 'whistleblower', warning off a potential 'angel' investor from making an investment in the troubled musical that might have helped get it to the stage.
Today, Michael Riedel reveals that potential investor, who has now been drawn into the controversy is Larry Runsdorf, who the drug manufacturing firm Breckenridge Inc. in 1983 and now lives in Boca Raton. Riedel writes:
But when I asked Runsdorf if he pulled out because of the e-mail, he would only say: "I was going to put money in, but then I decided not to. It was just a business thing."
Jeffrey Lichtman, Thibodeau's lawyer, seized on Runsdorf's response.
"No damages, no case," he said.
A statement released earlier this week by the attorney for Broadway press agent Marc Thibodeau reads:
"Ben Sprecher is now suing the innocent whistleblower with an impeccable reputation on Broadway who anonymously warned an innocent investor not to sink $2 million into the sinking ship that was Rebecca after he learned that the entire Paul Abrams saga was indeed a fraud.
Marc Thibodeau was loyal to Sprecher and loyal to the show - and stood to make a salary only once Rebecca went into rehearsals. Nevertheless, once Marc bothered to do the most cursory of checks on Abrams he realized that he, too, had been ensnared in a fraud. Despite Sprecher's assurances that he had done his "due diligence" on Mark Hotton and Paul Abrams - Marc's ten second Google search revealed that Hotton was knee-deep in fraud and that the home address provided to Sprecher by Paul Abrams, the fabricated investor who Sprecher never bothered to meet or speak to on the phone - was a fake. When Marc warned Sprecher about these obvious red flags, Sprecher replied "we're not going to talk about this anymore" and focused solely on having the criminal who brought Abrams to Sprecher - Mark Hotton - continue to attempt to raise money for Rebecca. An innocent investor, who was nearly caught in this web of deceit was warned off by Marc Thibodeau. For saving this investor, Marc is rewarded with a revenge lawsuit. Beyond his failure to do even the most limited background checks on his investors - such as an online search or speaking to Abrams on the telephone - Sprecher's credibility is further shattered as he even lied to the New York Times about going to London to deal with the fake estate lawyers of the fake Paul Abrams who had died a fake death from Malaria.
Sprecher desperately tried to have Marc Thibodeau criminally charged for his innocent and honest actions - and needless to say after one conversation with a Manhattan prosecutor we were told the obvious - that no crime occurred. Sprecher's self-serving, pitiful attempt to defend his conscious avoidance of the truth by accusing everyone around him of wrongdoing will not work. He will be countersued by Marc. In addition, I am looking forward to deposing Sprecher, under the penalties of perjury, where he will be forced to explain all of his dealings with his imaginary friend Abrams and his sleazy associate, Hotton, who is now charged in multiple federal criminal indictments. Broadway and any other associates of Sprecher deserve nothing less."
Sprecher is currently in the process of raising $4.5 million to bring the show to Broadway. A new contract was just negotiated that gives Sprecher and fellow producer Louise Forlenza until December 2013 to open on Broadway- otherwise the investors will have to be refunded.
As BroadwayWord previously reported, following REBECCA's cancellation on Broadway and the news that financier and stock broker Mark C. Hotton was arrested and called 'a considerable threat' to the community, he is now awaiting trial. Hotton was arrested for defrauding the show's producers of $60,000 and for an unrelated $750,000 real estate scheme which prosecutors said featured some of the same deceptions used in the REBECCA fraud.
In October, producers filed a $100 million fraud lawsuit in state Supreme Court against Mark C. Hotton, a former stockbroker from Long Island on whom they were relying to raise $4.5 million of the show's $12-million budget. For his criminal trial, Hotton faces 20 years for each of two counts of wire fraud, if convicted.
Earlier in October, Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, producers for Rebecca, the Musical, announced that they were left with no option but to postpone the show. They released a statement at that time, noting that "After Paul Abrams, a major investor, passed away in London, on August 5th, 2012, and who, with three other colleagues, represented the last portion of $4.5 million of the full capitalization for the production... On September 28th, Sprecher and Forlenza were informed that an extremely malicious e-mail, filled with lies and innuendo, had been sent directly to a new investor that morning from an anonymous third party. The e-mail was designed to scare this investor away and it succeeded. The investor withdrew."
REBECCA, the new musical based on the classic novel by Daphne Du Maurier novel, previously delayed the start of its rehearsals by two weeks due reportedly to the death of a key investor responsible for a $4.5 million investment pool in the production. REBECCA was scheduled to begin rehearsals Monday, September 10 prior to an October 30 first preview and November 18 premiere at the Broadhurst Theatre.
REBECCA had its world premiere in 2006 at Vereinigte Buhnen Wien in Vienna, where it played to sold-out houses for more than three years. Vastly successful productions of REBECCA have also played Budapest, Hungary; Bucharest, Romania; Helsinki, Finland; Stuttgart, Germany; St. Gallen, Switzerland and at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo.