Wizard World started last month with an announcement that Stephen Shamus had been fired. According to the NY Post, “Stephen Shamus, 42, helped select celebrities for fan gatherings run by Wizard World, which pays stars to show up and sign autographs for fans — but often fenagled the high-profile figures into signing memorabilia for him personally.” Read the entire piece here. Shamus has since filed a counter-suit, according to Bleeding Cool, denying all charges, claiming that Wizard owed him over a million bucks — and asserting that the stress from his ordeal put him in the hospital. From Bleeding Cool:
He denies the substantive claim of the suit, that he set up deals with celebrities he had hired through Wizard World, to sign items for himself, that he would then get authenticted with Wizard World credentials and then sell privately, though friends and family, for profit.
He denies that the presentation of a contract letter (added at the bottom of the piece) which guarantees him a base salary of $150,000 a year, incentive payments and stock options, was fraudulent or fabricated, citing other Wizard World executives who were party to it. And that he denies he tried to delete all his Wizard World e-mails.
He does, however, admit he didn’t return his laptop to Wizard World after being fired. [Read the entire post here]
Weeks later, Wizard World announced that it had insufficient funds for the coming year.
Now, this morning, comes the news that Paul Kessler and Bristol Investment Ltd has provided $2.5 million in funding, according to Bleeding Cool. From the site:
…Wizard World … received additional funding of $2,500,000 from Bristol Investment Ltd, a debenture investment, a long-term security yielding a fixed rate of interest, in this case 12% a year, and secured against assets of the company… netting them an instant $25,000 and 500,000 shares, with over thirty million share options.
Paul Kessler is chairman of board of Wizard World. He is also the founder of Bristol Capital Advisors, a Los Angeles-based hedge fund advisor that serves the Bristol Investment Fund. The company invests in publicly traded companies in financial difficulties at very favourable terms to the investor.
As of July this year, Bristol Investment fund owned around 15% of Wizard World. Well, it now looks like they are about to own a considerable amount more.
Bristol is one of Wizard World’s largest stakeholders, and earlier this year its portfolio manager Paul Kessler was installed as chairman of the convention company’s board.
“I have been involved in the day-to-day operations of Wizard World since late spring with a focus on operations, strategy, internal controls, and governance. With the guidance of our external legal and financial advisors, which include Lucosky Brookman LLP, Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP, DLA Piper, Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC, Redwood Capital, and Brio Financial Group each of whom we acknowledge and to whom we express gratitude, we have made, and continue to make, progress in each of these areas,” said Kessler. “I believe we have assembled a highly-regarded and exceptionally qualified management team during this time of transition. The financing by Bristol provides a solid fiscal foundation enabling the Company to drive toward future success by focusing on the existing business as well as some new business extensions. We have great plans on the table for Wizard World.”
Newsarama quotes Wizard World CEO/President John D. Maatta as saying “The Company is being actively converted from a ‘mom and pop’ road show carnival culture into a significant live event and entertainment company. While continuing to revamp the existing business operations, the Company, during the first two quarters of 2017, plans to move into new vertical brand extensions designed and contemplated to compliment and grow the existing business. We have cut costs, restructured the executive roster, and re-imagined the core nature of the company. In a material break from the past, the Company is now operated professionally, by professionals in the entertainment space.”
As Newarama editor ,Chris Arrant, notes: “Wizard World didn’t specify what these ‘new vertical brand extensions’ would be.”