Given that Harvey Weinstein’s value has depreciated from “Oscar-winning movie mogul” to “reported serial rapist” over the past year, perhaps it’s only fitting that a private equity firm that specializes in, among other investments, buying up underperforming auto dealerships placed the winning bid in the Weinstein Co.’s bankruptcy auction yesterday. This comes on the same day that a new round of allegations were leveled against Weinstein by Marco Polo producer Alexandra Canosa, who says that Weinstein sexually and physically assaulted her multiple times over the course of five years.
The winning bidder is Lantern Capital Partners, which offered to finance an attempt to help the studio avoid bankruptcy earlier this year. When that failed, the group put in a winning bid of $310 million, plus the assumption of $115 million in debt, for the troubled company. As The New York Times notes, Weinstein Co. attorneys had previously claimed that it had as many as 60 potential bidders, but in the end there were only three: Inclusion Media, owned by hedge fund manager-turned-Broadway producer Howard Kagan; Sonar Entertainment, producer of Mr. Mercedes and The Shannara Chronicles, which expressed interest in The Weinstein Co.’s TV division (which includes Project Runway); and Lantern. Kagan reportedly offered a bid of $315 million—including a $25 million fund for Weinstein’s victims—but Lantern offered to buy the company whole.
The NYT also deliciously notes that “Lantern has no Hollywood experience.” It does have experience in zinc recycling, bulk shipping, and the aforementioned struggling auto dealerships—a business model whose inner workings remain a mystery after a visit to its completely blank website. It also owns a North Carolina golf club that shuttered in January after receiving zero bids in its own bankruptcy auction, a Texas golf club with courses designed by Tiger Woods, and a Hawaiian resort that looks pretty nice, actually.
The Weinstein Co.’s creditors can still oppose the sale, which has to be approved by a bankruptcy judge. In a statement, five of the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Weinstein filed in New York strongly object to Lantern’s offer, which doesn’t include any specific funds set aside for victims. Interestingly, another tentative deal the Weinstein Co. was negotiating before going into bankruptcy—this one from a majority female investment group headed by former Obama administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet—also included a victim fund; that seemed like a done deal, but eventually fell through.