Bill Hutchinson, an eccentric real estate mogul who was arrested and charged earlier this month with sexually assaulting two teenagers, has filed a lawsuit against Kaaboo founder Bryan Gordon and president Seth Wolkov, claiming that the Colorado businessmen defrauded him out of $3 million and misrepresented key aspects of the failed festival at AT&T Stadium in 2019.
“KAABOO Texas was a colossal failure and was completely mismanaged from an operational standpoint” wrote attorney Gregory E. Stuhlman with law firm Chipman Brown Cicero and Cole in his complaint, filed July 29 in Delaware’s U.S. District Court. Organizers had hoped as many as 190,000 attendees would attend the event, but only 20,000 showed up, due to poor marketing and “an awkward gathering of touring acts” that were “past their prime,” Stuhlman alleges.
KAABOO Texas is the third event in the KAABOO series — the original KAABOO was launched in 2015 in Del Mar, California, and an offshoot event was held on the Cayman Islands in February 2019. The Del Mar festival was sold at the end of 2019 to Virgin Produced and has been postponed the last two years due to COVID-19. While the future of the Cayman Islands event is unclear, KAABOO Texas’ losses make a return unlikely.
“In addition to the negligible attendance, KAABOO Texas grossly underestimated its financial losses in its first and only year by $8 million, vastly eclipsing the original investment projections for the initial three-year period,” Stuhlman wrote. An investor update obtained last year by Billboard showed that the event lost a total of $19 million in its first year, far above the $11 million Gordon had forecast when pitching the event to Hutchinson in 2018.
The lawsuit comes just weeks after Hutchinson was arrested and charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a 17-year-old female and a 16-year-old female at houses he owned in both Texas and Orange County, California. The founder of Texas real estate investment firm Dunhill Partners, Hutchinson has pled not guilty to the charges. Billboard reached out to Hutchinson’s defense attorney Dan Hagood for comment but did receive a response. On July 14, Hagood told People that Hutchinson was “absolutely not guilty of sexually assaulting or sexually molesting anybody anywhere at any time.”
Hutchinson is well known in Dallas for his role on Lifetime’s reality show Marrying Millions, highlighting the 66-year-old’s marriage to 23-year-old Brianna Ramirez. The pair met while Ramirez was working at a Tex Mex restaurant in Dallas.
Hutchinson originally connected with KAABOO through former chief branding officer Jason Felts, who knew Hutchinson through Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. Hutchinson had been hired to build Virgin Hotels Dallas and was approached about investing in Virgin Fest, only to opt to invest in Kaaboo Texas instead after a meeting with Gordon.
Gordon is facing a half dozen lawsuits over the Kaaboo festival series, although Dunhill’s is the first to address the May 10-12 concert. Financial documents obtained by Billboard show that Gordon also owes $3.9 million to Blue & Silver, an investment entity controlled by the family of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, for its half of the $8 million in expense overages for KAABOO Texas.
Dunhill believes the event’s spiraling losses can be partially attributed to “management fees believed to have been funneled to Mr. Gordon and Mr. Wolkov,” Stuhlman wrote, alleging that the two men “enriched themselves by funneling the investor funds toward themselves through shell companies” he controlled, “including ticketing companies and event production companies. In other words, Gordon reaped windfall profits while cutting into the margins of the event.” Billboard reached out to Gordon for comment but did not receive a response.
Hutchinson is suing for fraud, conspiracy, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract and is asking for punitive damages.