In August of 2019, a huge festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock was supposed to be held. The event’s lineup included artists such as Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, The Killers, Imagine Dragons, and more. Although it was extremely hyped, the festival was cancelled less than a month before its scheduled date due to multiple issues which were prompted after Dentsu, one of the festival’s investors, pulled out of the event. Now, Woodstock is taking Dentsu back to court and demanding that they be refunded for the company’s fraudulent actions.
On April 29 2019, Dentsu announced that the event was cancelled altogether, claiming that the reason was due to doubts regarding the festival’s ability to host a safe event for artists and customers alike, as an administrator of New York’s Schuyler County reported that the tickets could not be sold because Woodstock had failed to get a mass gathering permit from the Department of Health. Despite this, the New York State Department of Health announced that the “cancellation announcement [was] not a result of the permit application pending with the Department,” admitting that “The Department was surprised to learn of [the] decision to cancel the event.”
Woodstock still assured fans that the festival would go according to plan without Dentsu, and on May 6, co-creator of Woodstock Michael Lang claims that Dentsu “illegally swept approximately $17 million from the festival bank account” and tried to persuade artists into dropping out of the festival. Woodstock asked for a court order shortly after demanding that Dentsu refund the festival the $17.8 million. Dentsu disputed their claims, and the Supreme Court of New York’s order on May 15 said that although Dentsu could not cancel Woodstock 50, they owed the festival nothing.
Now, over a year later, the Woodstock 50 organizers have officially filed a lawsuit against Dentsu for “sabotage” despite the previous court decision. The suit claims that Dentsu’s decision to pull out of the event had “nothing to do with any alleged breaches by Woodstock 50, but rather to avoid the potential that the Festival would not make money or not be as successful as they hoped” even though Dentsu claimed that the decision to leave the festival was because of the lack of a proper permit. The plaintiff states that Woodstock 50 is entitled to “tens of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages” as a result of Dentsu’s fraudulent behavior. The suit alleges that it was Dentsu’s intention from the start to “kill the festival.”