Family Behind Magic Castle Settles Dispute Over Profits
Co-founder Milt Larsen and his niece Erika Larsen, who is now in charge, were on opposite sides of a dispute over profit share at the newly lucrative private club.
Poof! The legal drama that threatened to reveal famed private club the Magic Castle's secrets has disappeared.
83-year-old co-founder Milt Larsen had been at odds with the board, led by current president Erika Larsen, 47 — his niece — over its interest in reducing his longtime 5.5 percent royalty on annual food and beverage sales now that the Hollywood haunt is a hotspot once again. (Its financial performance has increased by several million dollars over the past several years, turning his royalty into what's become a $400,000 annual haul.)
Seeking to avoid a public trial that would lay bare the half-century-old organization's inner workings, the two sides scheduled a mediation for Apr. 15. It apparently was a success, with members receiving the following message late that evening:
"The Academy of Magical Arts is pleased that they have reached a negotiated settlement with the club's founder, Milt Larsen, and his company, Magic Castles Incorporated, which owns the license to the name Magic Castle. This agreement, which carefully plans for 25 years in the future and even beyond, has been arranged to assure the success of our club, and the future of our club. The Magic Castle and the Academy of Magical Arts have formed an important association over the last 52 years, and today's negotiated settlement provides the road map for the continuing tradition for this popular Hollywood landmark, and the world's famous club for magicians."
Reached for comment, neither side would discuss the financial specifics of the deal. "All parties have agreed not to discuss the terms," Erika Larsen tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Milt Larsen's attorney, Robert Schwartz, adds, "Milt is pleased with the resolution of the matter. The parties have achieved an outcome that protects Milt's legacy as the creator of the Magic Castle while sustaining the continued operation for many, many years to come."