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LEGAL TUSSLE BREWS OVER STEELY DAN

Donald Fagen has sued the estate of his partner in Steely Dan, Walter Fagen, to reclaim ownership of the band name, which the estate is vigorously fighting. The estate has responded that the crux of his suit, a 1972 Buy/Sell Agreement, is outdated.

Fagen filed suit after receiving a letter from the estate notifying him that the “the Buy/Sell Agreement dated as of October 31, 1972 is of no force or effect" and that Becker's widow, Delia Becker, was entitled to 50% ownership of Steely Dan.

Fagen filed the suit “to obtain a judicial determination that Becker's shares must be sold to Steely Dan pursuant to the express terms of the Buy/Sell Agreement, so that Steely Dan and Fagen can go on as contemplated and provided by the Buy/Sell Agreement." He is also suing Steely Dan's business management firm Nigro, Karlin, Segal, Feldstein & Bolno, which he claims has withheld royalty statements and records regarding tour income from him.

The Becker estate responded, “Mr. Fagen's lawsuit, riddled with half-truths and omissions, misleadingly fails to state that the day after Walter died, Mr. Fagen had his lawyer send a demand letter to Walter’s estate, thus beginning a legal campaign against Walter’s family immediately after his death.  The misrepresentation that his widow, Ms. Cioffi, initiated any litigious action is simply untrue. In our view, Mr. Fagen is unfairly trying to deprive Walter’s family of the fruits of their joint labors.  

“Since Walter’s passing, we have endeavored to achieve a compromise with Mr. Fagen.  We were close to a resolution with his longtime counsel who he suddenly fired.  We then negotiated in good faith with replacement counsel who Mr. Fagen also fired. Mr. Fagen’s third and current lawyer did not even attempt to contact us prior to filing a lawsuit.”

The estate says it will “vigorously defend against his unwarranted and frivolous case.”

The estate operates the band’s website and Fagen’s suit states that absent an injunction, they will continue to “misappropriate Steely Dan's website and otherwise inappropriately use the Steely Dan name."

The most recent post on the website takes a shot at Fagen, referring to gigs by the band since Becker died as “Steely Dan.”

Fagen’s ultimate goal is to get an official ruling that holds up the Buy/Sell Agreement, force Becker's estate to sell his shares in Steely Dan and damages stemming from the "repudiation and breach" of the agreement.

 

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