If Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital succeeds in its quest to buy “all or a significant portion” of Weinstein Co., it won’t be the Trump chum’s first high-profile bailout of a controversial celebrity.
Barrack, who was chairman of President Trump’s inaugural committee and is his longtime friend, stepped outside his typical real estate investment wheelhouse when he paid for a $23 million loan on Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported. This allowed Jackson — who three years earlier was found not guilty of child molestation after a lengthy trial — a way out of his debt on the estate. Colony now owns the Santa Barbara property, which it listed earlier this year for $67 million — a major discount from its $100 million price tag two years ago.
Barrack also bought millions of dollars of debt from celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. He subsequently helped the acclaimed artist — who often comes under fire for controversial photos, including her nude-except-for-a-satin-sheet portraits of then-15-year-old Miley Cyrus for Vanity Fair in 2008 — raise the money back by promoting her work.
The Neverland Ranch bailout was a turning point for Barrack, his competitors told the Journal. Afterwards, the mogul began spending more time in the world of celebrities, creating a media and entertainment investment fund — with actor Rob Lowe as a partner. Barrack told New York Magazine in 2010 that “hundreds” of celebrities had reached out to him seeking financial support following the ranch purchase.
Amid a seemingly endless sea of allegations of sexual harassment and rape against Harvey Weinstein, Weinstein Co. fired the co-chairman earlier this month. It is not clear whether Weinstein would regain a role if Colony successfully buys it.
Barrack is not unfamiliar with the company. Colony was part of a consortium that bought Miramax from Walt Disney Co., which had bought it from Weinstein Co. Colony sold Miramax to Qatar-based BeIN Media Group in 2016. [WSJ] — Hannah Miet