The Wall Group’s founder and chief executive officer, along with two directors, are being accused of refusing to make good on a multimillion-dollar deal with a financial consultant.
Forté Capital Advisors, a private equity firm and financial advisory, told a local New York court last week that Brooke Wall, founder and ceo of the influential The Wall Group, as well as agency directors Alison Bird and Kate Stirling, are refusing to pay at least $15 million in fees for consulting on business dealings. The firm did not name TWG as a defendant, only the executives in their individual capacities.
In a statement, Wall, Bird and Stirling pointed to Jason DeYonker, the founder and managing partner of Forté, who also lists himself as a director of TWG’s board.
“Mr. DeYonker’s claims are baseless and without merit,” the executives said. “This is a frivolous lawsuit, and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously.”
Forté claims to have contracted with TWG executives initially around the time of the agency’s 2015 acquisition by mega-agency WME-IMG, since renamed Endeavor, with an agreement allegedly stipulating Forté’s fee as 10 percent of the sale price. Although the firm said in its complaint that it received an initial payment — the amount was not disclosed — after the sale closed “without objection of any kind” from defendants, subsequent payments are allegedly owing.
Forté claims to be owed another payment of an estimated $8 million as “defendants continued to request services from plaintiff in connection with the transaction” through last June, but is also suing over a prospective payment set to come in 2020 estimated to be around $21 million. The firm said both payments are based on the 10 percent fee arrangement, and it seems that both are based on expected installment “payouts” to TWG related as part of its acquisition.
Forté claims to have “performed all of its obligations under the agreement” and that Wall herself told representatives of the firm that she “did not intend to honor the terms of the agreement, despite plaintiff’s fulfillment of its obligations,” according to the complaint.
One area that seems vague is the exact nature of the alleged agreement, as Forté notes it was “initially made orally and was later memorialized through various writing, notes or other memoranda” that included “either expressly or by reasonable implication” the alleged terms of the agreement. The terms were allegedly based on a spreadsheet laying out the “proposed flow of funds” related to the IMG/WME acquisition that the TWG defendants “reviewed and approved.”
Oral contracts are legally enforceable, but are harder to prove in court. Generally elements like witnesses and/or some sort of sundry physical record is needed to bolster such a claim.
Nonetheless, Forté is accusing Wall, Bird and Stirling of breach of contract, anticipatory breach of contract and unjust enrichment and seeking damages of at least $15 million, plus interest.
Counsel for Forté could not be reached for further comment
The Wall Group is a leading talent agency that operates as a subsidiary of Endeavor and since the acquisition has expanded beyond New York and Los Angeles to London and Paris. The group represents many of the biggest behind-the-scenes fashion talent covering styling, hair, makeup, manicures and set design. Clients include stylists Kate Young, Karla Welch, Brad Goreski, Jason Rembert, Elizabeth Saltzman and more.