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Is KAABOO festival returning to Del Mar, moving, or finished? Lawsuit against San Diego Padres may decide

George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

The Texas event, at AT&T Stadium near Dallas, was poorly attended and lost $19 million, according to Billboard. At least two lawsuits by investors have been filed as a result.

In 2018, Felts founded Virgin Fest, which acquired KAABOO in September 2019 for $10 million from its co-founders, Bryan E. Gordon and Seth Wolkov. Two months later, Gordon and Wolkov sued Felts, who they alleged had pursued “a Trojan Horse strategy” to “infiltrate KAABOO” and “take possession of its most valuable assets.”

Felts and Virgin Fest countersued, alleging that Gordon had misrepresented KAABOO’s financial viability. Gordon was also sued in 2019 by his former wife, Molly Kingston, who alleged he had misappropriated $22 million from the couple’s holding company to help fund KAABOO.

These lawsuits came a year after Gordon told the Union-Tribune of his plans to expand the festival to up to 10 cities.

“Within five years,” Gordon said at the time, “I think we will certainly be a seven-to-10 festival brand across North America that may well stretch into Canada, Mexico and possibly other international markets.”

Gordon, a self-described “serial entrepreneur,” is the founder of the private investment firm Madison Ventures Plus. He has not responded to inquiries about KAABOO from the Union-Tribune.

In 2020, Virgin Fest — facing a threat of foreclosure from an unnamed lender — sold the rights to KAABOO and the rights to use its name and brand to the lender outright. The lender in turn transferred those rights to other companies.

The 2022 San Diego lawsuit against the Padres was filed on behalf of two companies, Live Holdings and Festival Licensing and Acquisition Corporation, LLC. Each is registered in Delaware, which does not require companies to identify who owns them.

A third company — Fest Founders LLC, which is registered in the Cayman Islands and is not a plaintiff in the lawsuit — on June 2021 transferred licensing rights to KAABOO’s name and brand to Live Holdings and Festival Licensing and Acquisition Corporation, LLC.

 

As of last summer, 2021 Gordon was facing at least six lawsuits related to KAABOO. He is not part of the two latest suits filed this year by KAABOO’s new owners against the Padres. But Virgin Fest, which Felts stepped down from in 2020, is. So is Ownco, a company Felts founded in 2019 that is now known as San Diego Fest Ownco.

The parent company of Ownco is Virgin Fest, which in turn is owned by the Virgin Group. Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, did not respond to a recent inquiry from the Union-Tribune about the status of KAABOO and Virgin Fest.

How long the litigation between the latest owners of KAABOO and the Padres could go on before being resolved is impossible to predict.

“What exacerbates this,” the person familiar with the lawsuit told the Union-Tribune, “is that the people the Padres entered into an agreement with have told the Padres they are no longer involved with KAABOO. However, they are involved in the litigation, so it’s all kind of confounding, which is par for the course with the last couple of iterations of KAABOO.

“It seems like they just leave ruin, destruction and lawsuits in their wake, and have a history of doing so.”

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(San Diego Union-Tribune Research Director Merrie Monteagudo contributed to this report.)

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©2022 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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