A Broadway press agent who secretly warned an investor to avoid putting money into “Rebecca,” a musical about a ghost, could be held accountable for the damage that resulted when the investor pulled out his millions and the show couldn’t go on, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
Marc Thibodeau, the agent, argued that he was only trying to protect Laurence Runsdorf, the investor, when he sent Runsdorf four emails anonymously in September 2012 warning him away from the show.
Thibodeau was convinced that the show would fail because at that time, another European investor was turning out to be a fictional figure and his bosses at Rebecca Broadway Limited Partnership ordered him to say nothing about it.
The judges at the Manhattan Appellate Division said Thibodeau’s decision to ignore them and warn Runsdorf amounted to his breaking his contract, but a jury has to decide if Thibodeau is also guilty of defaming his bosses and tortious interference in their deal with Runsdorf.
Mark Hotton, who fabricated the investor, was sentenced to three years in federal prison for wire fraud.
The judges said Thibodeau, “a sophisticated professional,” should have zipped his lip or quit. He had no right to send “a prospective provider of needed capital an anonymous communication deprecating the entire production and suggestion that the producers were guilty parties in a fraudulent scheme,” the suit says.
Ultimately, Mark Hotton, a Long Island businessman who fabricated the European investor to earn a $60,000 fee, was sentenced to three years in federal prison for wire fraud.
The musical, which is based on a Daphne du Maurier novel, never opened on Broadway but it has been produced in Vienna and Japan.