No solid reason given for Prince no-show, court told


THE ALLEGED US agent for pop superstar Prince has claimed the artist cancelled his planned show at Dublin’s Croke Park last summer without giving any reason “of substance”, the Commercial Court heard yesterday.

In those circumstances, it seems MCD Productions could not lose its case over Prince’s failure to appear, Rossa Fanning, for MCD, told Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

The judge fixed February 23rd next for the hearing of MCD’s claim for €1.6 million over the scheduled performance, which was cancelled at 10 days’ notice. He noted that the case may involve video-link evidence from the US.

MCD had joined William Morris Endeavour Entertainment LLC, of Beverly Hills, California, and Tony Goldring, alleged agents for Prince, to the case after the star alleged neither had authority to bind him to the Dublin concert.

Mr Fanning said yesterday his client had joined the agents because it was “a mystery to us” that an established agent would make any agreement without authority.

A “very significant” defence had now been delivered by the agents which contained an admission that, on February 26th, 2008, William Morris, acting through Mr Goldring, entered into an agreement by phone for Prince to perform, Mr Fanning added. In that defence, both defendants say William Morris and its servants or agents, including Mr Goldring, had talks with MCD regarding a Prince concert in Dublin.

They plead they were acting at all times as agents for Prince under an agreement of August 2005 with express authority to negotiate on Prince’s behalf for the purpose of securing bookings.

On February 26th, 2008, they claim they entered into a contract with MCD for Prince to perform at Croke Park on June 16th, 2008, for “an artist’s guaranteed fee of $3 million [€2 million] dollars”.

They claim MCD had transferred $1.5 million, half of the agreed fee, to a William Morris account.

It is admitted that Mr Goldring sent an e-mail to MCD confirming the contract on February 27th, 2008. It is further admitted that, about June 6th, 2008, MCD was notified by William Morris that Prince wished to cancel the concert. The defendants say Prince refused to travel to Dublin for the concert and gave “no reason of substance” for the cancellation.

William Morris and Mr Goldring say the decision to cancel the contract was entirely outside their control and the sum of $1.5 million was returned by them to MCD.

They also claim that any contract entered into was between Prince and MCD and deny negligence, breach of duty or misrepresentation.

In its action, MCD’s Denis Desmond has said no policy would insure against cancellation by reason of “a whim” of the artist.

MCD could not recoup its extensive financial losses by bringing an insurance claim, he said. MCD had had to refund some 55,126 tickets purchased and its total losses exceeded €1.66 million, he added.

An appearance on behalf of Prince was entered on May 13th last by solicitor Gerald Kean and the star’s lawyers argued the MCD claim was “greatly inflated”.