The former heavyweight champion is suing planner Brian Ourand and his former firm, SFX Financial Advisory Management Enterprises, for allegedly stealing money and causing losses of more than $5 million. The suit was filed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court.
“They feel betrayed in the worst possible way by their financial advisors,” one of Tyson’s lawyers, Ben Meiselas, said of the World Boxing Hall of Fame member and his wife Lakiha Tyson, who is also a plaintiff. “But the Tysons are fighters, and always have been, and [they] have a legal team in place with unlimited resources to make sure [they] receive justice.”
Washington D.C.-based SFX Financial is owned by Live Nation, which is respected by many in Hollywood for its representation of celebrity talent. Its investment arm, which serves professional athletes, has just two employees, fewer than 25 clients and about $45 million in assets under management, according to its latest Form ADV filed in September with the SEC.
Live Nation spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson did not immediately return calls for comment. Live Nation told the Associated Press Thursday it had not yet been served with the lawsuit and thus could not comment on it.
Ourand did not return phone calls seeking comment.
SFX Financial compliance officer and part-owner Eugene Mason -- who was named to replace Ourand as the Tysons' planner before the couple left the firm, according to the complaint -- also did not return calls for comment.
The trouble began in 2011, the suit alleges, when the Tysons discovered that SFX had replaced Ourand with Mason. The Tysons, the suit says, had grown close to Ourand and trusted him. They invited him to their wedding and gave him full authority over their accounts, with the power to write checks, it says.
Only when the Tysons inquired as to why Live Nation had replaced him did the firm disclose that he had stolen $300,000 from the couples’ accounts, the complaint alleges.
“SFX/Live Nation did not provide an accounting of the funds to the Tysons, but instead demanded the Tysons blindly trust them regarding what they represented the purported loss to be,” the complaint says. Although the firm wired the Tysons an undisclosed sum of money in compensation, the complaint alleges that it was not sufficient.
The complaint further alleges that Live Nation tried to circumvent the Tysons’ lawyers and convince the former pugilist and his wife to sign an agreement that would have waived their right to sue or discuss the case.
$5 MILLION IN DAMAGES
The suit claims this theft has caused the Tysons damages in excess of $5 million.
The couple had retained the firm to help them conclude a decade-old bankruptcy proceeding that had capped Tyson’s ability to earn income and forced him to decline lucrative contracts, the complaint alleges.
“By April of 2011,” according to the complaint, “the Tysons were growing increasingly frustrated with the pace of the bankruptcy proceeding. Income that the Tysons were permitted to retain was inexplicably not being used by SFX/Live Nation to effectuate a closure of the bankruptcy.”
While “Ourand was embezzling funds from the Tysons,” it continues, “he was making false statements to the Tysons’ legal advisors making closure of the bankruptcy more difficult and causing the Tysons to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.”
In recent years, Tyson has burnished his once tattered reputation with a cameo in the hit film “The Hangover” and his one-man autobiographical show “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” which the New York Times described as odd, but “comically vivid.”
News of the suit lit up Hollywood websites. Snarky celebrity blogger Perez Hilton invoked Evander Holyfield when he urged SFX to “hurry up and give Tyson his money! We wouldn't want him starving and ... lead him to bite another ear off.”