'Call Me by Your Name' Producer Rodrigo Teixeira Sued for Fraud

Rodrigo Teixeira
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The charismatic Brazilian, 47, is facing lawsuits both in the U.S. and abroad for what two investors allege is a Hollywood Ponzi scheme.

A charismatic film producer from Brazil who found success in Hollywood on projects like 2019's The Lighthouse and the 2017 Oscar winner Call Me by Your Name now finds himself accused by former business partners of fraud, lack of transparency and, according to one complaint, running a Ponzi scheme.

The producer is Rodrigo Teixeira, and his relentless drive has made him one of the darlings of Brazil's film industry. But according to a pair of lawsuits filed in Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, Teixeira, 47, has courted wealthy Brazilians to invest in his company, RT Features — and they have, to the tune of $16 million — but the majority of the funds have allegedly disappeared, with no adequate records kept to show where they went.

In Brazilian court, Teixeira has countered that the lawsuit is "unfounded" and lacking in "material evidence" but that he will "comply with the judge's determination ... without even filing an appeal."

Teixeira did not respond to a request to comment for this story, directing The Hollywood Reporter instead to a publicist, who said a "cross-complaint is being filed" in the near future. Teixeira has hired Jill Basinger of Glaser Weil to represent him in the U.S.

The two plaintiffs are Luiz Mussnich, a prominent Sao Paulo financier and art patron, and his brother-in-law, Carlos Gros, son of Brazil's former Central Bank president Francisco Gros.

Mussnich first met Teixeira in 2009. At the time, Teixeira was married to Maria Raduan, whose grandfather was one of Brazil's wealthiest cattle magnates, and the couple were moving in the elite circles of Sao Paulo society. (They divorced last year.) Teixeira had recently shifted gears from a career in finance to producing. His strategy was to gobble up as much IP as he could, optioning the film and TV rights to dozens of book titles.

"I was flabbergasted because he spoke so passionately about films," Mussnich tells THR. "I thought it would be a good idea to introduce my clients to invest a small stake in the film industry."

Mussnich introduced Teixeira to his clients, and he'd regale them about various projects in the pipeline. They'd cut him checks — anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000 at a time — and he'd welcome them into his starry sphere.

There were 10 key investors in all. Mussnich put $350,000 of his own money into RT Features, but his brother-in-law was in much deeper, writing Teixeira $2.8 million in checks.

Months and then years passed, and no word on their investment came. "I started to feel uncomfortable," recalls Mussnich. "There was no news, no accounting, no film production agreements. So I started putting pressure on him."

But as recently as 2018, they remained on good terms — so much so that Mussnich and Gros accompanied Teixeira to the Academy Awards that year, where Call Me by Your Name won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay. (Teixeira is one of 20 credited producers on the film.)

That film's success led its seven Brazilian investors, who'd waited for six years as Teixeira urged them to have patience, to finally expect a return on their investment. None came — and that's when the lawsuits began.

In Gros' complaint, filed in Sao Paulo, one of the allegations involves a $200,000 investment in the 2017 film 24 Frames by the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. It was later revealed that the $200,000 was never received by that film's French producer, Charles Gillibert of CG Cinema, nor had Teixeira been involved in any way in the making of the film.

Gros has since been repaid for that loan — but dozens more remain unaccounted for. "The squeakiest wheels tend to get the grease," Mussnich says of Teixeira's repayment efforts. In an out-of-court settlement with another investor, the son of Brazilian banking executive Carlos Mansur, Teixeira's check bounced, leading his powerful father to file a criminal complaint against Teixeira.

In the U.S., the case remains a civil one. Also named in that lawsuit is Joseph Geus of JG Management, a Santa Monica-based business manager who accepted the checks on Teixeira's behalf and who is accused in the complaint of manufacturing false expenses and other forms of creative bookkeeping. (Geus did not return a call from THR.)

"The money stays out there in the ether until you ask about it," says Mussnich. "The guy can't seem to give original source documents." What documents Teixeira has provided, he adds, are "totally incomplete. It's a huge mess."