14 posts categorized "Celebrity Bankruptcy"

In re Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. in Retrospect

posted by Adam Levitin

Today in bankruptcy I taught In re Trump Entertainment ResortsInc. (Bankr. D. Del. Feb. 20, 2015).  The case isn't in my casebook (although some might notice that I presciently included in the problem sets a recurring character named Ronald Grump, a real estate developer with frequent bankruptcy dealings), but I added it to my syllabus this fall because of the election connection.  It was only today, however, that I realized what a hugely important decision it was in retrospect.  

The case involved an attempt by Donald and Ivanka Trump to terminate the debtor's license to use their trademark name, which had been pledged by the debtor as collateral for a loan, despite being nonassignable by its terms.  The Trumps sued in state court to terminated the trademark based on an alleged breach of the license agreement, but the debtor's bankruptcy filing stayed the suit. The Trumps moved to lift the stay.  The bankruptcy court said that the trademark license was an executory contract, and under the hypothetical test for assumption, said that the debtor could not assume the license, and therefore lifted the stay to allow the state court termination litigation to proceed (which I assume resulted in termination).  

Here's the thing.  Imagine if this case had come out differently.  What if the bankruptcy estate could have assumed and assigned the Trump trademark?  And what if it were happening during the election season or now?  One can only imagine the bidding war that might have developed.  

Donald Trump Speaks the Truth

posted by Adam Levitin

I never thought I'd write this, but Donald Trump speaks the truth, at least as far as bankruptcy is concerned. 

There's plenty to criticize regarding Donald Trump, but I really wish the media would back off the bankruptcy angle of his career, or at least be smarter about it.  

Continue reading "Donald Trump Speaks the Truth" »

This Morning, I Woke Up With This Feeling

posted by John Pottow

I feel compelled to share this sad but not unexpected filing.  I hope he will not run into any trouble under section 523(a)(9).

When an Oath of Poverty (or Waterboarding) Isn't Even Enough ... !

posted by Jason Kilborn

I've been following with some interest the saga of pitchman Kevin Trudeau and his battle with a federal judge here in Chicago. The judge refuses to believe that Trudeau is not hiding scads of wealth in offshore accounts to avoid paying a $37 million FTC fine against him. In a move that harkens back to the dark days of not-so-jolly old England,  the judge remanded Trudeau to prison for failing to reveal his supposed hidden assets. Indefinitely. No way out. Indeed, when Trudeau came back for the "have you had enough" hearing today, he offered to be waterboarded to prove that he wasn't hiding wealth offshore. The judge simply refused to believe him and, oddly, seems to have admitted that he "may never believe Trudeau has disclosed everything – waterboarding or not." If this isn't prejudicial bias, I'm not sure what is.

Continue reading "When an Oath of Poverty (or Waterboarding) Isn't Even Enough ... !" »

Foreclosing On The Life Story In Your Head

posted by Melissa Jacoby

BrainsIn the fictional worlds of Charles Yu, George Saunders, or Etgar Keret, a person's accumulated life stories and thoughts when she files for bankruptcy might be withdrawn, like blood, then filtered for marketability. In such a world, a debtor might be required to spin her tale for the sole benefit of creditors, or forever silenced. Planning to give a five-minute anecdote about your childhood at The Moth? Don't even think about it.

Casey Anthony's bankruptcy was filed in January 2013 as a no-asset Chapter 7, with nearly  $800,000 in debt - not counting scores of claims with amounts identified as "unknown." Ms. Anthony's income and expense schedules list, literally and rather remarkably, zeroes all the way down. At the 341 meeting of creditors in March, Ms. Anthony asserted that friends and strangers take care of her needs. Presumably, this arrangement is not sustainable. Will she seek to support herself in the future by talking about her past? 

The bankruptcy trustee wants to auction off something that probably has never been expressly sold in a bankruptcy case (it certainly wasn't listed as an asset in the schedules): exclusive rights in perpetuity to the commercialization of Ms. Anthony's life story, including "her version of the facts, her thoughts and impressions of whatever nature, in so far as these pertain to her childhood, the disappearance and death of her daughter . . . her subsequent arrest . . . and withdrawal from society. . . ." (see the lengthy paragraph 3 in here). How much debt would be satisfied by such a sale? 

Continue reading "Foreclosing On The Life Story In Your Head" »

Who Says Earnings Management's Just for CEOs?

posted by John Pottow

A story from the sports world.

Happy New Year: Shall We Make Some Resolutions?

posted by Nathalie Martin

Welcome to 2013 Credit Slips Readers! It’s time to think about our debtor/creditor future, what to keep and what to leave behind. Sometimes I ask my fellow bloggers if they made any financially-related resolutions but usually everyone say no, so this year, we’ll just make a nice list of resolutions through your comments!   My List:

1. I resolve to read less about the financial crisis (leave it behind, all) and more about other juicy financial news. First, I want to get my hands on Pound Foolish, a new book by Helaine Olen slamming the financial advice industry. Ms. Olsen claims that advisors are not generally on the side of clients but rather on the sides of various people who buy their love. Yes we knew that, but this still might be a good read. Olen exposes the fallacies spun by some of America's current personal-finance celebrities, including  David Bach, a former senior vice president at Morgan Stanley, and his Latte factor theory. Olen also takes on Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad), apropos since one of his companies (Rich Global, LLC) filed for Chapter 11 back in August.

Continue reading "Happy New Year: Shall We Make Some Resolutions?" »

Right of Publicity as an Asset in Bankruptcy?

posted by Melissa Jacoby

A quick post to announce that intellectual property scholar Jennifer Rothman has just published an article that engages with the bankruptcy treatment of the "right of publicity." Painting with the broadest brush, the piece questions the alienability of an identity-holder's right of publicity more generally, and concludes creditors should not be entitled to "own (or control)" a debtor's right of publicity (p.236). For the bankruptcy and commercial lawyers reading this post, or courts confronting questions of creditor entitlement to a debtor's right of publicity, the article contains references to recent court decisions of potential relevance (pp. 199-200) in addition to important arguments on these questions. According to Rothman, there still is no published caselaw explicitly holding that creditors are entitled to the value of a bankruptcy filer's right of publicity. (If Credit Slips readers know of examples that did not result in published decisions, I would welcome a comment below, or a note to bankruptcyprof@gmail.com).

Continue reading "Right of Publicity as an Asset in Bankruptcy? " »

The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network Looks at Bankrupt Athletes

posted by Bob Lawless

In its acclaimed "30 for 30" series, ESPN is airing a show about professional athletes who go bust after leaving their sport. From ESPN's web site (which also has a trailer for the show):

According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 60 percent of NBA players are broke within five years of retirement. For 78 percent of NFL players, it takes only three years. Sucked into bad investments, stalked by freeloaders, saddled with medical problems, and naturally prone to showing off, many pro athletes get shocked by harsh economic realities after years of living the high life. Drawing surprisingly vulnerable confessions from retired stars like Keith McCants, Bernie Kosar and Andre Rison, as well as Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the MLB Players Association, this fascinating documentary digs into the psychology of men whose competitive nature can carry them to victory on the field and ruin off it.

The episode, simply titled "Broke," airs in the U.S. at 8:00 PM (ET) on October 2 on ESPN.

Hat tip to my former student and current Chicago bankruptcy lawyer, Frank Venis, for drawing this to my attention. And, yeah, I know it has not really been the "Entertainment and Sports Programming Network" since 1985, but the full name has been seared into my brain ever since a moment of personal ignominy in a college sports trivia contest.

Sovereign Debt

posted by Stephen Lubben

From the the second volumn of J.F. Molloy, Court Life Below Stairs (rev ed. 1885), regarding events after the death of George III's spouse, Queen Charlotte:

















A 5% recovery is pretty bad, even by modern Greek standards, but maybe that's where things are headed. Of course, maybe the proper point of comparison is actually personal bankruptcy. But note the numbers -- £1,000 in 1818 (the year the Queen died) would be worth about £70,000 today; about £85,000 if we count from 1827, the date of the Duke of York's death. So the Duke's debts were ... large. Much larger that most personal bankruptcies today for sure.

Understanding Anna Nicole Smith (or, at least, Stern v. Marshall): A Must-Read Analysis

posted by Melissa Jacoby

Led by my colleague Elizabeth Gibson, four members of the National Bankruptcy Conference have produced a fantastic analysis of the Stern v. Marshall U.S. Supreme Court decision (that most recently has been mentioned on Credit Slips here and here). I strongly recommend it for judges, lawyers, academics and others interested in the bankruptcy system and/or federal court jurisdictional questions.    

Anna Nicole Smith May Be More Than Just the Only Loser on This One

posted by Bob Lawless

Vickie Lynn Marshall, as she is known to bankruptcy mavens, or Anna Nicole Smith, as she is known to normal people, lost today in her second round before the Supreme Court. In his last post with us, John Pottow provided a good summary of the issues, and guest blogger Troy McKenzie also had offered some thoughts about what the case might mean for some other areas of bankruptcy law (here and here). Now that the opinion is out, I would describe it as scary for the daily workings of the bankruptcy system.

Continue reading "Anna Nicole Smith May Be More Than Just the Only Loser on This One" »

Political Cartoons. Elizabeth Warren edition.

posted by Katie Porter

Warren-SheriffMy husband commented the other day that he didn't think Elizabeth Warren was a "political figure." His argument was not that she is not an elected offical or that she doesn't have partisan allegiances. No, instead, he was focused on the fact that she has never been in a cartoon. But look what Google just turned up!  (By the way, I'm putting this under "Celebrity Bankruptcy," another blog category that puzzles me slightly.)

On the Rangers' Bankruptcy

posted by Adam Levitin

The New York Times has an interesting piece on the Texas Rangers' bankruptcy. It seems that Major League Baseball is supporting one bidder group (including Nolan Ryan), but that group hasn't made the top dollar offer. So do the Rangers have to be sold to the top bidder or do MLB's preferences (and threat to terminate the Rangers' franchise if it doesn't get its way) have to be taken into account? 

The story doesn't explain why MLB prefers the lower bid. Maybe there's a good reason. On the other hand, "we just like them better," or "we think it'd be cool for Nolan Ryan to own the Rangers," (i.e., "in the best interests of baseball") can't be sufficient grounds for going with the lower bid. 

What about the threat of that if their preferred bidder wins, MLB will pack up its toys and leave the sandbox? I would anticipate that a sale order would include some sort of injunction against this (e.g., no termination of franchise except for reasonable cause). To be sure, for some creditors, the loss of the Rangers' franchise would be far worse than a lower sale price, but I don't think a spite termination can be included in a valuation maximization comparison. (Fwiw, I don't think MLB's unique antitrust exemption has any bearing on whether a bankruptcy court order can enjoin it from terminating a franchise.)

On a side note, yes, I'm aggrieved that MLB loaned the Rangers $40M, which was used to land Cliff Lee. Go go White Sox!

[Bob: note the spacing!]


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