The organizers of Woodstock 50 filed a suit against Japanese company and former financial partner, Dentsu Group, for tens of millions in a New York Supreme Court case on Wednesday. Woodstock 50, which was meant to occur on August 16-18 of last year in celebration of the original festival’s 50th anniversary, had been cancelled due to difficulties in funding and planning. This had occurred in part from Dentsu taking their funding back, which resulted in the festival losing its location. When Woodstock 50 announced a change in venue, hoping to move to the Merriweather Post Pavilion, many artists on the lineup dropped out of the festival.
Woodstock 50 organizers had already filed a case against Amplifi, a subsidiary of Dentsu with which the festival had been working, but are now also filing against Dentsu. The suit’s preliminary statement accused Dentsu group for allegedly being “directly responsible for the destruction of the Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival […] an event that was to be one of the iconic musical and cultural events of our era.”
Dentsu had attempted to cancel the festival last April, with Woodstock 50 organizers informing them that they did not have the ability, filing a legal petition for injunction against the company. Dentsu had then accused Woodstock of an alleged repeated breach in contract, claiming they had the right to take over the organization and cancel the festival. Woodstock founder and organizer Michael Lang then stated Dentsu never had any right to Woodstock, as it did not belong to them. The festival ended up being cancelled on July 31, after a change in venue caused many artists to drop out.
Organizers of Woodstock 50 state that Dentsu, which had been one of the main financial backers for the festival, allegedly “sabotaged” Woodstock. Last year, organizers had accused Dentsu of illegally withdrawing $17.8 million from the event when they decided they no longer wanted to continue contributing towards the festival, with the courts siding with Dentsu.
Dentsu is now being sued for tens of millions in compensatory and punitive damages by organizers of Woodstock 50. The allegations in the new filing accuse Dentsu of being directly responsible for the failing and cancellation of Woodstock 50. The preliminary statement reads:
“Dentsu Group and DAN, in conspiracy with one another […] and with Amplifi, directly instigated and caused Amplifi’s breach — which included Amplifi absconding with almost $20 million in Festival funds and transferring them to Dentsu — and compounded the enormous damage that resulted from that breach by attacking Woodstock 50 and the Festival in the press and with numerous Festival partners, ensuring that the maximum damage was inflicted on Plaintiff. Following their failed effort to have Amplifi illegally cancel the Festival, Defendants then intentionally interfered with Woodstock 50 to kill the Festival so Woodstock 50 could not stage the Festival under any circumstances, even without Amplifi and Dentsu’s involvement.”
Woodstock 50 organizers had lost the original venue after missing a payment deadline due to legal troubles with Dentsu. The festival was then denied a permit for a second site, which was already going to have less capacity than originally planned. John Fogerty and Jay-Z both dropped out of the festival after Woodstock 50 announced the first venue change, Fogerty stating he wished to be at the original and only site.