Cher Sues Over Investment in HIV and Cancer Drugs

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The entertainer claims she was tricked into her stock for much less than the shares were worth.

Cher has sued several pharmaceutical executives alleging they tricked her into selling millions of dollars worth of stock in a company working on treatments for cancer and AIDS/HIV for much less than the shares were worth.

Lawyers for the entertainer say in a lawsuit that Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong used his firm, NantCell, to acquire all of the shares of Altor he didn't already own for about $15 million last year, though Altor should now be valued at north of $1 billion.

The suit also names Hing Wong and Fred Middleton as plaintiffs, and alleges that Middleton traveled to Cher's home in Malibu in 2013 to pitch her an investment. Mostly, it was a promising drug for the treatment of AIDS/HIV that piqued the interest of the singer-actress, and she invested as trustee of her Inshallah Trust.

"Once Cher's money was safely in Altor's bank account, all clinical data was subsequently concealed from Cher, and she never received another communication regarding patient outcomes or clinical trial successes," according to the lawsuit.

Cher's attorneys claim one of Altor's compounds show "great promise" as a cancer treatment by 2020 and the same compound has also earned itself a $28 million government grant because it "appears to stop HIV from hiding itself from the immune system and then kills the HIV cells."

The lawsuit also notes that Soon-Shiong, who is a major shareholder in Los Angeles Times parent Tronc Inc., paid only $1.50 a share for Cher's stock but paid $2 when purchasing shares soon thereafter, and even that higher price undervalued the company, perhaps by more than $1 billion.

The lawsuit doesn't say how much Cher paid for her stake in Altor, but the Los Angeles Times reported it was about 50 cents a share, meaning she tripled her investment in Altor in three years.

Cher is suing Altor, Soon-Shiong, Wong, Middleton and others for compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages, plus interest and attorney fees and the return of her trust's Altor stock.

"Middleton and Wong's fiduciary duties required them to treat Plaintiff with complete candor by fully disclosing all the facts and circumstances involving the sale of her shares to Defendant Soon-Shiong's entity, Cambridge Equities," it says in the lawsuit.