Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee has filed a $1-billion lawsuit against POW! Entertainment, the company he co-founded in 2001.
In the court documents, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles, 95-year-old Lee claims that defendants Gill Champion and Shane Duffy “conspired and agreed to broker a sham deal to sell POW! to a company in China and fraudulently steal Stan Lee’s identity, name, image, and likeness as part of a nefarious scheme to benefit financially at Lee’s expense.”
The company was sold in 2017 to Hong Kong-based Camsing International Holding, 16 years after Lee co-founded it.
The court documents claim that his former business partners “forged or fraudulently obtained a signature from Lee to give POW! Inc. the exclusive use of Lee’s identity, name, image, likeness…”
The documents also state that around 2011, Lee was diagnosed with macular degeneration. Four years later, he was diagnosed with advanced macular degeneration and declared legally blind.
As a result, Lee “has been unable to read documents or drive on his own.”
Lee, who helped create Black Panther, Iron Man, the X-Men and countless other Marvel characters in comic books, is seeking damages in excess of $1 billion.
A POW! representative told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement Wednesday, “The allegations are completely without merit. In particular, the notion that Mr. Lee did not knowingly grant POW! exclusive rights to his creative works or his identity is so preposterous that we have to wonder whether Mr. Lee is personally behind this lawsuit. There is no question Mr. Lee — who, along with his daughter, was and remains a substantial POW! shareholder — clearly understood the terms of the agreements he signed. The evidence, which includes Mr. Lee’s subsequent statements and conduct, is overwhelming and we look forward to presenting it in court.”
In April, Lee sued his ex-manager Jerardo Olivarez. According to court documents, after Lee’s wife of 70 years, Joan, passed away in late 2017, he “became the target of various unscrupulous businessmen, sycophants and opportunists who saw a chance to take advantage of despondent state of mind.”
One of these alleged opportunists, stated the suit, was Olivarez, who in concert with other plaintiffs named in the suit, assumed control of Lee’s professional and personal affairs and allegedly “caused approximately $4.6 million dollars to be transferred out of Merrill Lynch Account without authorization.”
The suit also alleged that Olivarez “convinced” Lee to set up a “false charity” called Hands of Respect, which the suit claims was nothing more than a vehicle to shift Lee’s money to Olivarez.
— With files from ET CanadaFollow @KatieScottNews
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