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Simpson License Could Be Sold

LOS ANGELES — Jessica Simpson's master licensing deal with Andrew Kirpalani, chairman of JS Brand Management in New York, might soon find a new home.<BR><BR>After paying $10 million for the licensing contract in October, Kirpalani said he was in...

LOS ANGELES — Jessica Simpson’s master licensing deal with Andrew Kirpalani, chairman of JS Brand Management in New York, might soon find a new home.

After paying $10 million for the licensing contract in October, Kirpalani said he was in talks to sell. VCS Group LLC, led by president and chief executive officer Vince Camuto, appeared to be leading in the hunt. VCS Group also owns the license for BCBG Footwear.

“The way it came across financially, it would be very profitable for me,” Kirpalani said.

The original license encompassed handbags, jewelry, shoes and sunglasses as well as apparel. At issue in the negotiations was whether the sale would include the transfer of the Dessert Beauty license, including fragrance and body care products, held by Dlish Fragrances Inc. Kirpalani was to receive that product license by January 2006 as part of the original deal.

A fall apparel line called Princy by Jessica Simpson, sublicensed by Tarrant Apparel Group in Los Angeles and launched at WWDMAGIC in February, would continue under the new ownership, Kirpalani said. At the time, Tarrant chairman Gerard Guez said he expected the line, targeting the junior market with denim, shirts and jackets, to reach $10 million to $15 million in first-year sales.

Tarrant hopes to leverage Simpson’s visibility on television and in the movies, such as her role as Daisy Duke in the “Dukes of Hazzard” film slated for an August opening, in promoting the apparel line.

Simpson’s popularity, however, isn’t absolute. “Nick & Jessica’s Tour of Duty” special, which followed Simpson and husband Nick Lachey as they visited U.S. troops in Iraq and other locales and aired on ABC May 23, was that evening’s lowest rated show on the major networks, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Kirpalani said Simpson’s supposed marriage travails, which have received lots of attention in gossip columns and magazines, isn’t playing a part in his decision.

“She’s an icon by herself … whatever happens, happens,” he said.