The battle over the name and profits that come from Steely Dan is only just heating up. Last week, the group’s singer, and sole living founder Donald Fagen, filed a lawsuit against the estate of his longtime partner and collaborator Walter Becker to gain total control over the band, citing a Buy/Sell agreement they both signed back around 1972. Today, Becker’s estate has issued a public reply to what they call Fagen’s “unwarranted and frivolous case.”
“We believe the agreement to which Mr. Fagen refers in his suit — drafted 45 years ago — was not in effect at the time of Walter’s death,” the attorney’s representing Becker’s estate assert.
Mr. Fagen’s lawsuit, riddled with half-truths and omissions, misleadingly fails to state that the day after Walter died, Mr. Fagen had his lawyer send a demand letter to Walter’s estate, thus beginning a legal campaign against Walter’s family immediately after his death. The misrepresentation that his widow, Ms. Cioffi initiated any litigious action is simply untrue. In our view, Mr. Fagen is unfairly trying to deprive Walter’s family of the fruits of their joint labors.
Since Walter’s passing, we have endeavored to achieve a compromise with Mr. Fagen. We were close to a resolution with his longtime counsel who he suddenly fired. We then negotiated in good faith with replacement counsel who Mr. Fagen also fired. Mr. Fagen’s third and current lawyer did not even attempt to contact us prior to filing a lawsuit.
In his own filing, Fagen is seeking to enforce a clause from the 1972 agreement where, in he event someone quit the band or died, Steely Dan as an entity would purchases all of that members shares. In this case, as the sole living member of the original Steely Dan, that would make Fagen the owner of the band itself. Fagen is seeking upwards of $1 million in damages, while also suing the band’s management firm, Nigro, Karlin, Segal, Feldstein & Bolno claiming that they’ve been withholding records.