Robert FX Sillerman – the financier who changed the shape of the live music business in the late-‘90s and created what became Live Nation – is fighting yet another civil court case, despite having filed for bankruptcy in 2016 and again in February 2018.
Two Chicago concert promoters, React Presents and Clubtix, filed an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition against Sillerman in Manhattan Bankruptcy Court. They had won a judgment against Sillerman over a promissory note he guaranteed on behalf of his second EDM-focussed incarnation of SFX Entertainment and are trying to get paid.
In 2014 SFX acquired React Presents and Clubtix from Jeffery Callahan and Lucas King, and part of the payment was a $10 million promissory note. In another lawsuit in 2016, ESFX Holdings LLC asked a New York state judge to issue an order permitting the forced sale of a property owned by Sillerman and his wife in Manhattan, to satisfy a $14.6m judgment it obtained following default on another promissory.
Sillerman asked the court to dismiss the case and said the filing was an attempt to pressure him by threatening him and his wife with the loss of their home.
In a remarkably bold $1.3 billion, three-year acquisition binge across North America and into Europe, Sillerman built the first SFX Entertainment and promptly sold it to radio station and billboards giant Clear Channel Entertainment for $4.4bn in 2000 (see Audience issues 1 and 3). Five years later, after further acquisitions he renamed Clear Channel Entertainment, and it was spun-off as promoter Live Nation with debts of around $750m.
Sillerman tried the formula again with EDM festivals as his target sector, but failed to sufficiently understand the sector and came seriously unstuck. What was left of his SFX Entertainment ll is now called LiveStyle.