10:55am PT by Eriq Gardner
Joel Silver Sued Over Real Estate, Art Loans
Joel Silver, the producer of The Matrix and Lethal Weapon series, is now in court over financial troubles.
The Watley Group, a financial restructuring firm, filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court this week over $1.3 million in finder fees allegedly owed on loans to cover Silver properties in Brentwood, Malibu and Venice as well as the storied producer's art collection.
Silver's extravagances and pressing debt issues were covered extensively in April by The Hollywood Reporter. At the time, Silver admitted being connected to John Bryan, CEO of the Watley Group, through one of his former top lieutenants, Steve Richards. According to the complaint, Silver met with Bryan in March 2014 to explain he urgently needed to raise money to pay off high-interest-rate obligations on loans, including one linked to a former post office in Venice that he had hoped to turn into his new offices.
Bryan in turn brought in others to help find financing ("I didn't even know who they were," Silver told THR about these brokers) and eventually, billionaire Don Hankey's financial fund came in to save the day. Or at least, according to the lawsuit, to ward off the ramifications of not immediately paying off maturing debt by loaning Silver $13 million on a one-year term (expiring in June) at 11 percent interest, secured by Silver's Brentwood and Malibu properties.
Soon thereafter, Silver is said to have continued to face financial pressures that necessitated a second, $29 million loan from Hankey. The lawsuit also says that Watley arranged for Sotheby's to loan Silver an addition $8 million over his leveraged art collection.
Hankey's loans figures to come due at some point, but for the time being, Watley is alleging Silver orally agreed to pay him a 3.5 percent finders fee on the loans he helped arrange. Watley says he got about $400,000 for the first Hankey transaction — one that triggered a since-settled lawsuit between Watley and one of the co-finders — but not the second Hankey transaction nor the Sotheby's loan.
Watley, represented by Christopher Grivakes, is suing for breach of oral contract and conversion. THR has reached out to Silver's attorney for any response.