Universal Express who bought and then auctioned many hundreds of items of Jackson family memorabilia is now in receivership and subject to several court orders. CEO Richard Altomare, has also been ordered to step down by court order.
On August 31st, a court appointed receiver was ordered to take full custody and control of Universal Express and all of its subsidiaries, along with all of its money, property, and assets. To show cause, it was requested that the assets and financial state of the company and Richard Altomare be investigated and reported.
In various lawsuits against the company and its subsidiaries, they have been ordered to pay many millions of dollars in fines, and Altomare’s questionable business and personal dealings are being investigated.
The receiver has taken control of all the companies, their money, property and assets during the investigations and the Universal Express website is no longer available.
Regarding the memorabilia auction, one of the final Vegas court hearings on the matter took place Friday. This was a mandatory conference to discuss attorney fees etc: which Altomare and Universal Express were ordered to pay. Both Michael and Janet Jackson had filed lawsuits against him, and the court found Universal Express in contempt and was ordered to pay the legal fees to all parties.
To add to the problems of Richard Altomare, investigations completed in mid-October and recently reported revealed the following:
– Universal Express’ operations were supported by illegally selling $9.5 million in unregistered securities, each aspect of the company was millions in debt.
– Between January and September 1st, Richard Altomare collected about $1 million from the job, and his wife collected a fairly substantial amount herself though Altomare was unable to explain what her job was.
It was found that Altomare had used company funds to purchase highly expensive watches and jewelry for his personal collection. One such item was a $500,000 diamond, and he would then turn around and sell all of this, illegally, for cash. On October 10, U.S. Marshals seized two dozen pieces of jewelry, and Altomare remains under criminal investigation.
Part of the Receiver’s written report follows:-
Michael Jackson memorabilia
The Company purchased a quantity of Michael Jackson memorabilia, some of which it auctioned off in Las Vegas on [May 31st], 2004. The purchase and auction has spawned litigation with members of the Jackson family in at least New Jersey and Las Vegas who claim at least some of these goods and also with the auction company. The Receiver has not been able to carefully evaluate that litigation at this point. However, the Receiver has been informed that the judge in Las Vegas has entered a contempt order because Universal Express failed to comply with a settlement that had been reached. The court additionally awarded fees and costs against the Company for the enforcement of the settlement agreement and contempt trial. As of July 24, one of the parties awarded fees and costs was requesting $44,431.83 in fees and costs of $1,103.15. I am not yet aware of the amount sought by the other party entitled to an award. Local counsel for the Company are owed $32,098.89.
Additionally, attorney for the Company in Las Vegas have informed the Receiver that there is a 10′ by 13′ storage area in Las Vegas which contains memorabilia that did not sell at the auction and for which they do not want further responsibility. The Company has failed to pay the storage fees for the past several months. The Receiver has agreed to assume the storage costs for these unsold items.