Madison Square Garden CEO and Knicks owner James Dolan has been sued on the behalf of MSG shareholders for allegedly paying himself a ridiculously high salary despite only working part-time because of his commitments to his important fedora blues band, JD and the Straight Shot.
The lawsuit, which was first reported by news service Agenda and Pitchfork, was filed in Delaware in late March by the Norton C. Willcox Testamentary Trust on behalf of all MSG shareholders.
According to the suit, MSG paid Dolan $75.6 million over the last three fiscal years: "By comparison, MSG’s peer companies paid their CEOs an average of $17 million for the same three-year period. The highest-paid peer CEO received $32.4 million, over $43 million less than James,” the complaint says, calling Dolan's salary "excessive" and "far from fair."
The suit also argues that Dolan "works at MSG only part time," due to the fact that JD & the Straight Shot "travels and performs extensively domestically and internationally." It adds some grim details: "In 2017, for example, the band performed 50 times in six countries and 41 U.S. cities, an increase from the 32 shows it performed in 2016. In late 2017, the band released its sixth album, and is in the process of recording a seventh."
In a statement, MSG said the lawsuit was "nothing more than corporate harassment." A Dolan family spokesperson told Agenda that the law firms "represent the worst in our legal system. They manufacture complaints and then advertise for clients, also known as trolling." Back in 2015, a Delaware judge dismissed a similar lawsuit at Cablevision, where Dolan previously served as CEO. "They lost and will lose again. We look forward to fully litigating this matter to conclusion. We will never settle nor give in to this corporate extortion."
In March, Dolan was in the news when he threatened to ban a fan for lightly heckling him. Who could blame him? There is nothing to heckle here regarding this hep cat bandleader and his hard-lived blues stylings:
Update: An MSG spokesperson noted in an email that "Jim has delivered tremendous value for shareholders - approximately 37% (or $2 billion) since he became CEO."