Top fashion photographers, hair and makeup artists and stylists who worked for Jed Root Inc. are considering legal action, claiming the company did not pay them for their work. Although there has not been an official tally, individual artists have been said to be out hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A group of roughly 40 artists has been organizing via e-mail and conference calls about their options. Some have reached out to lawyers and are considering options that include pursuing an involuntary bankruptcy filing for the agency and pursuing legal action against the company owners.
This comes less than a week after WWD broke the news that the global creative agency was closing its doors due to financial troubles. Oliver Fiechter, chief executive officer of RPRT, the parent company that bought Jed Root in 2015, said at the time of purchase, the agency had a loss of more than $6.5 million — which he became aware of after the sale. He added that RPRT tried “several cash injections to stabilize the business” to no avail. Fiechter said Jed Root, which has offices in Paris, London, Los Angeles and New York, owed RPRT loans of $3.6 million and more than $4.5 million in management fees.
Sources have disputed the ceo’s claims that Jed Root was acquired with a $6.5 million loss, while others pointed to the way the business was operated as more fundamental to its collapse. The year following Jed Root’s acquisition, the ceo had laid out a vision that included acquiring DTouch, a Parisian post-production company, in early 2016 and Marek & Associates, a New York-based agency. (DTouch was declared in judicial liquidation by the Tribunal of Commerce in Paris, according to a filing from March of this year. The report said DTouch had ceased making payments in late 2016).
Returning to Jed Root, as 2016 wore on, artists noticed that payments were not coming in for completed jobs. Insiders said clients’ payments were being routed to RPRT, which was supposed to disperse the funds to the local offices, but the parent company had been holding on to that cash. Now, artists are trying to figure out how to proceed given the cost of litigation and the best method to recuperate their funds. Insiders say chances are high that Jed Root enters bankruptcy either through the artists’ legal actions or voluntarily.
It wasn’t too long ago that Jed Root was one of the most high-profile talent agencies, home to top photographers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, illustrators and set designers, who are responsible for the imagery in GQ, Paris Match, Elle, CR, Porter and various editions of Vogue, among others.