A New York Times report published on Sunday raises questions about whether Lou Taylor, the business leader long associated with the recently concluded conservatorship of Britney Spears, has unduly enriched himself using the singer’s earnings. In the report, titled “Britney Spears Felt Trapped. His business manager took advantage,” Taylor, his companies and Britney’s father and former curator, Jamie Spears, deny wrongdoing through lawyers.
The report notes that Taylor’s company, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group, was a small business until she met Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, in 2008, striking a deal that would both net millions. He says the conservatorship, which lasted an unusually long 13 years and earned Jamie Spears some $6 million, gave him “vast power over [Britney’s] life and finances. He also notes that Tri Star declined to reveal how much money he made from the arrangement, but puts the figure at “millions” of dollars.
In recent years, Britney has attacked the conservatorship, which began in 2008, claiming she was forced to work and much of the money she earned went to a constellation of lawyers, managers, agents and others due to a number of unusual financial problems. provisions.
“Near the center of it all was Ms. Taylor, according to a New York Times investigation based on court documents, financial records, company documents and interviews with more than 70 people familiar with the guardianship, Ms. Taylor or its companies,” the report states. Taylor resigned as Britney’s chief commercial officer in November last year; the conservatorship ended last month.
The report notes:
* That Jamie Spears received a loan of “at least” $40,000 from Tri Star early in his relationship with the company. While a lawyer for Jamie Spears, Alex Weingarten, a lawyer for Jamie Spears, initially told The Times that Jamie Spears “never” received a loan from Tri Star, but later confirmed this. “Tri Star regularly lends money to customers,” he said.
* That the singer’s accounts were opened at Stonebridge Wealth Management, a company Taylor co-founded and co-owned, shortly after the conservatorship began. “While the company said it did not receive fees for many services provided, several other maneuvers appeared to benefit Ms. Taylor,” the report said. These include Britney’s estate paying for a security firm hired by her father to surveil ‘Free Britney’ protesters who criticized Ms Taylor and, according to a former employee, surveil Britney herself; pay some of Taylor’s personal legal fees, which resulted in Britney’s attorney suing in California court;
* That in 2010, the guardianship funneled tens of thousands of dollars from Britney’s charitable foundation to a Christian counseling group linked to Taylor and her husband, and whose founder once bragged that the group had helped people give up lesbianism. Jamie Spears “also sometimes donated 10% of [income derived from Britney] to a church run by the Taylors, according to a financial document reviewed by The Times.
* That Spears’ estate paid for advertisements in trade publications praising Taylor and Tri Star, including in Variety.
Weingarten, an attorney for Jamie Spears, said “Jamie’s administration of Britney’s estate has always been in Britney’s best interests.” He said the court, a co-curator and Britney’s court-appointed attorney approved Mr Spears’ decisions. He added: “Jamie has nothing to hide and therefore won’t hide anything.”
Charles Harder, a lawyer for Taylor, said Tri Star “faithfully served the estate” and helped Ms Spears build an estimated fortune of $60million. “It’s a success in every way.”
Matthew G. White, a Stonebridge attorney, wrote in a recent letter to Britney’s legal team that she “has worked diligently and tirelessly to provide valuable services for the benefit of the estate”, often at no cost.
The relationship began with Britney’s younger sister, also named Jamie, who starred in Nickelodeon’s “Zoey 101” signed as a Tri Star client in 2005; her father, who had battled alcoholism and filed for bankruptcy, became a Tri Star client soon after, and the following year became Britney’s curator. The report notes that Tri Star lent “at least” $40,000 to Jamie Spears less than a month before placing Britney in conservatorship.
Speaking to The Times, Anthony Palmieri, the new president of the National Guardianship Association, which represents restaurateurs, said the loan “makes me wonder where the allegiance lies. Does the curator make decisions in the best interest of the curator or business leader he is indebted to? It stinks of conflict of interest. Harder countered, “A small loan, later repaid, had no effect on Tri Star’s work to the domain in the following years.”
In 2008, just months after arguing that Britney was incapacitated and therefore should be under her control via guardianship, Jamie Spears signed her on for an eight-month concert tour called “Circus”. Tri Star was hired to serve as the tour’s business manager, handling its finances and accounting. The tour grossed around $130 million. The following year, the company finalized a deal to become manager of Britney’s estate, which includes many of her assets, and gave her broad control over the management of her finances. Tri Star would receive 5% of Ms. Spears’ “entertainment adjusted gross revenue”, according to Harder, who declined to elaborate further.
The report says it’s unclear if Britney knew how her money was being spent. His lawyers are investigating whether Jamie Spears, Taylor and others unfairly took advantage of the conservatorship.
Read the full report here.