UPDATED with statements from Dion and her lawyers: The California Labor Commission has concluded that Celine Dion has to pay commissions to ICM Partners and partner Rob Prinz, ruling that she still owed for a lucrative contract with AEG because the deal was negotiated by her former agency.
“The abundance of extrinsic evidence present here supports the Labor Commissioner’s conclusion that a valid talent agent contract was formed between the parties,” CLC concluded.
The dispute centers on a concerts deal valued at nearly $500 million that was reached in 2017. ICM Partners sued Dion for unpaid commissions in 2019.
Dion and her lawyers issued separate statements Thursday; read them both below.
The ruling, signed by Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower, states that Prinz, her longtime agent, “was the only licensed talent agent on the deal, and ICM was identified as Dion’s agent in the Omnibus Agreement itself. In general terms, the Omnibus Agreement provides that in exchange for payments of at least $489,850,000, Dion agreed to perform in Las Vegas and on global tours from 2017 to 2026, and to give AEG the exclusive right to promote her shows.
“Although the Omnibus Agreement is valued at a staggering half a billion dollars,” the ruling adds, “the Labor Commissioner has dealt with similar matters, albeit not in this monetary range. In similar fact patterns, we have consistently applied the rule stating, ‘[a] talent agency is generally entitled to receive post termination commissions for all employment secured by the agency prior to its termination.”
An attorney for Dion and her management CDA Productions did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Last year, after ICM’s claims first surfaced, she said in a statement, “I’m sad and disappointed by this false report that I’m refusing to pay ICM or Rob Prinz. I know that my team has made several very fair and generous offers to them and we really put a lot of effort in trying to work things out.”
The ruling states that ICM Partners is due 1.5% of the gross compensation earned or received from all Las Vegas residency performances, 3% of all touring performances and 1.5% from performances in her home province of Quebec. It also includes interest calculated at 10% per annum. The commissioner ruled that Prinz was not entitled to collect commissions on Dion’s $5 million sign-on bonus, however.
Patricia Glaser, litigation counsel for ICM Partners, said in a statement: “We are very pleased that the Labor Commissioner listened to the testimony of numerous witnesses over several days and reviewed a significant number of documents before issuing a very thoughtful 32 page opinion which unequivocally confirmed ICM’s and Rob Prinz’s right to commission an extremely lucrative deal which they were instrumental in negotiating and procuring.”
Here are the respective statements from Dion’s attorneys and the singer herself:
Zia Modabber, Dion’s attorney:
“With due respect to the Labor Commissioner’s office, we think they just got it wrong. The decision imposes on Celine a common agent’s agreement that she and Mr. Prinz abandoned decades before. Forcing that old arrangement on her now as if she were a new artist–rather than an international superstar–ignores the history of their later contracts and wildly overpays Mr. Prinz for his contribution.
“Given their long history of much more limited contracts, if Mr. Prinz wanted to go back to their original agency agreement, he could have asked for it and there would have been some agreement, or not. We will appeal this decision and have a jury decide what is right.
“I have paid Mr. Prinz many millions of dollars over the years. And when this all started, my team made an extremely generous offer to pay him and ICM many more millions for years to come, even though our old agreements were over and we had not made a new one. I’m not saying that Mr. Prinz did not do anything, but he’s taking much more credit for my career than he deserves. Mr. Prinz had never asked to be paid for 10 years for a few months’ work, and I never agreed to it.
“When Rene was alive, he took care of my business and was always very fair with the people we worked with, and he taught me to be the same. Because he wasn’t here to stand up for me at the hearing, I feel like Mr. Prinz and ICM took advantage with their demands for money and revealing confidential information about my AEG deal. I feel betrayed.”