Update: REBECCA Producers' Attorney Releases Additional Statement
A statement released 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." Click Here for the full statement.
Now, Sprecher's attorneys have responded with a new statement of their own:
"Today Rebecca Broadway Limited Partnership and Sprecher/Forlenza Productions, Inc, sued Marc Thibodeau, for $ 100,000,000 based on his breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract as their press agent for the production of Rebecca. As the complaint details, Thibodeau, as the production's press agent, learned that an 'angel' investor was willing to invest the money needed to put the show back on track for a 2012 opening, subject to the condition that the investor insisted on remaining anonymous. Using a false name, Thibodeau first emailed the investor's attorneys, calling their attention to press articles in the NY Times and the NY Post about the production's financial problems that everyone with an interest in the theatre had already seen. When that tactic failed to deter the 'angel' from proceeding, Thibodeau used a different false name to contact the 'angel' directly, alerting the investor that his identity had leaked to at least one individual hostile to the production. Within hours, the 'angel' withdrew his support, requiring that Rebecca, The Musical be postponed yet again.
At the same time as Thibodeau was secretly trying to destroy the production, he was drafting, and released, a press release for Plaintiffs trying to manage the devastating blow that his own malicious conduct had caused for the show's production. Thibodeau has now admitted that he was the sender of the emails that were designed to, and succeeded in, causing the 'angel' investor to pull out of the production.
Now that he has learned that his identity as the sender of those emails had been discovered, Thibodeau concocted and has now released a statement claiming that he was acting as an "innocent whistleblower." With respect to that "defense," Plaintiffs' attorney, Ronald G. Russo, had this to say:
"Thibodeau is just compounding his deceitful conduct by offering this preposterous 'whistleblower' story. Plaintiffs had been the victims of a fraud perpetrated by Mark Hotton and Hotton has been indicted for defrauding them. Any suggestion that Thibodeau was a "whistleblower" to announce Mr. Sprecher's supposed misdeeds is baseless since Mr. Sprecher was the victim and not the perpetrator of any wrongdoing. Rather, Thibodeau betrayed his employers, abused the confidence they had placed in him, and intentionally set out to destroy them and their production of Rebecca, by using false identities and the one thing that he knew would get the 'angel' investor to withdraw - letting that investor know that it was no longer anonymous. I look forward to the discovery process which, I expect, will reveal Thibodeau's true motives for doing what he did. As with most betrayals of trust, I suspect that, in the end, Thibodeau's motives will turn out to be greed and self-interest."
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.