A classic story of intrigue, double crosses, runaway financiers, campaign skullduggery, and Stan Lee got yet another chapter underway when it was announced that Stan Lee Media is suing Marvel for a cool $5B. The one-time new media venture claims that it co-owns Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Incredible Hulk.
How is this possible? You thought Stan Lee Media went down in flames in the first dot.bomb crash? And Stan Lee was long gone and moved on to POW! Entertainment? And renegade co-owner Peter Paul was busy planning to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid with stories of improprieties from her senate run?
While the colorful Paul is not involved in this chapter, it seems STAN LEE MEDIA has been resurrected by Jim Nesfield, a self described “Whistleblower” who has appeared on 60 Minutes to talk about mutual fund malfeasance and so on. And Nesfield is claiming that contracts Lee signed while still involved are still in effect.
He said Mr. Lee signed a contract in October 1998 that assigned co-creative interests to Stan Lee Media. Unfortunately for Stan Lee Media, the same rights were assigned to Marvel.
“Stan Lee is no longer with the company, but the contract remains intact,” he said. “He has signed it and the contract is still in force.” He added that Mr. Lee may be called to testify if the case goes to trial.
He said the contract had been hidden from the public and Mr. Nesfield has filed suit on behalf of the shareholders to assert their rights. He said they are entitled to 50 percent of all revenue going back three years and going forward 50 years. They can only go back three years by law, but not as far back as 1998.
Meanwhile, in its own statement on the suit Marvel reveals that Stan is himself suing Stan Lee Media.
Stan Lee Media was recently in bankruptcy and is being sued by Stan Lee. In his suit, Mr. Lee is challenging the legitimacy of the management of Stan Lee Media. Mr. Lee is a long-time employee of Marvel and its predecessor companies and currently serves as Publisher Emeritus of Marvel Comics. Mr. Lee commented that, “I do not support this action and believe the suit to be baseless.”
This entire story is so tangled that it would take weeks just to read the court documents. For some entertaining background, Dirk links to this entertaining Michael Dean news story that hints just how crazy and nutty Stan Lee Media’s business dealings really were.