Madonna vs. Warner Music War Escalates
Tensions have escalated in the battle between Madonna and the parent of her Maverick Records label, Warner Music -- not to mention the man who runs that company, Seagram's liquor heir Edgar Bronfman.
Madonna has broken her silence about the legal battle, releasing a statement to The New York Times saying: "I find myself in the ludicrous position of being sued by my own record company, whom I have been loyal, industrious and reliable to for over 20 years. For them to behave this way is nothing short of treason."
Warner Music accuses the star of losing $66 million for the company over the past five years and failing to pay back a $20 million loan from Warner, according to court papers.
The finger-pointing began on March 24 in Los Angeles Superior Court, where Madonna's Maverick Records sued Warner Music and its former parent Time Warner Inc. (also the parent company of PEOPLE) for breach of contract and improper accounting and management that cost the singer and her business partners millions of dollars.
In the suit, Maverick -- which was founded by Madonna in 1992 -- accuses Warner Music of "engaging in acts of self-dealing and profit-taking, falsely accounting for receipts and expenses of the partnership ... and secretly attempting to seize partnership opportunities for their own benefit."
In Warner's reply to the suit, the company argued "Maverick has invented and asserted trumped-up and baseless claims." Warner also suggested that Madonna launched her attack just as it came time for Warner to begin buying out Madonna's label.
Maverick's lawyer, Bert Fields, called Warner's legal action a stab in the back for Madonna, who has sold millions of CDs for the company.
The Times reports that Warner is not dismissing Madonna's stature in the music industry, though at age 45, her sales power is slipping somewhat. (Even so, she is in the midst of readying a world tour to kick off late next month, and her June six-night stand at New York's Madison Square Garden is sold out.)
Maverick's suit asks the court to declare that the label has the right to end the joint-partnership agreement and do business with other companies. Madonna and her business partners also seek unspecified damages, which her attorney estimated to be more than $200 million.