Say it ain’t so, Norman Reedus. Last week convention company Wizard World fired their Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Shamus, and they filed suit against him. The suit alleges that Shamus used his position to obtain more than $1 million worth of signed memorabilia and collectibles from Wizard World guests which he then sold on the side. A sweet set-up for some extra cash, if true.
According to the suit, first reported in the NY Post, Shamus was in charge of relation with the “nerdlebrities” and negotiated money-losing deals with celebrities who appeared at Wizard Worlds, seeking to get guests who would have the most valuable autographs at any cost, causing Wizard World to lose even more money.
The situation appears to have been brewing for a while, since Shamus produced a 2011 letter of employment from his brother, Gareb, who founded Wizard, and demanded to be paid according to its terms. According to the suit this letter is fraudulent, and when the current Wizard management took exception, Stephen tried to delete all his company emails.
According to the filing:
Defendant Shamus regularly arranged for the celebrities under contract with Wizard World to create autographed and/or collectible merchandise for Shamus’s personal benefit. Upon information and belief, celebrities would provide Shamus with autographs and/or items of value to generate collectible merchandise. The celebrities and artists provided these memorabilia, and/or merchandise during the course of Shamus’s duties for Wizard World (the “Stolen Memorabilia”). Shamus did not pay for the autographs on these items—the key component of their value—all of which were provided through plaintiff’s retention of the celebrity. Shamus later obtained authentication of the Stolen Memorabilia through a third party, using the Wizard World convention to establish authenticity, and arranged for the sale of the Stolen Memorabilia, sometimes through one or more outlets owned by members of his extended family in the New York metropolitan area. By way of example, Shamus routinely had Wizard World funded celebrities sign baseballs. He even arranged for the cast of “Back to The Future” to autograph mock hoverboards similar to the type made famous by Marty McFly.
Shamus was fired from the company on October 27th, and on the same day his brother, Kenneth Shamus, resigned from the board.
On October 27, 2016, Mr. Kenneth Shamus resigned as a member of the Board of Directors (the “Board”) of Wizard World, Inc. (the “Company”), as well as from his position on the Audit Committee of the Board, effective immediately. The resignation is not the result of any disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.
You can read the documents below. Stephen Shamus, brother of Wizard founder Gareb Shamus, had been with the company for 25 years, but based on Tweets for numerous former Wizard employees, was highly unpopular among staff members.
The suit also mentions “Defendants John Does 1 – 10 are persons who aided and abetted defendant Shamus and shared in the illicit proceeds generated by his scheme.” Let the speculation begin.
Brother Kenneth is the head of the online toy store ToyWiz. Wizard founder Gareb was removed from involvement with the company after resigning in 2011. He’s currently making a name for himself as a fine artist – the last time we ran into him he looked pretty happy and relaxed with this pursuit.
Aside from the salacious nature of this suit and its shocking allegations, its possible that the high fees that Shamus negotiated may have had effect on the entire nerdlebrity market. So yeah, developing and how! Here’s the resignation letter:
and the suit:
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.