Oksana Baiul sues William Morris Endeavor Agency (threads merged)

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Badams, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    I'm also confused about whether Oksana is also suing over her original contract with them in 1994. I would think the statute of limitations would have run out on that one.
  2. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

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    I agree AxelAnnie. Oksana was supposedly sleeping in the shed at the ice rink (did anyone even bother to confirm that?) after practice because she had no where to go. It's hard to come down on Galina when she took this little girl with no parents and no means of support into her home and trained her gratis. Totally agree. Who knows where Oksana would be had Galina not opened up her home and rink to her, maybe a dying alcoholic prositute in Ukraine.

    HOWEVER, Galina did not wave a magic wand and make Oksana an Olympic gold medalist. Oksana put in the hours, the blood, sweat and tears. Oksana was with Galina only what? Two years, three years before Lillehamer. I think the correct thing to do would be to reimburse Galina for those three years, say thank you for changing my life and I'll be forever grateful to you, and then cut the financial ties. If Galina still has her medal as hostage, I'm even more disgusted by her.

    Whatever happened to altruism? I sponsored a kid in my neighborhood (it's the third ward, 99.9% black) so she could go to a private high school, and she totally came into her own, and is now in college on a full ride. Do I expect compensation? Hell no. Did I expect a thank you? Yep. And I got one, and said "It was a pleasure to be a part of it".

    So I guess I understand Galina, but then I don't. I'm not looking for a cut in this young girl's future earnings. Helping was the reward. Her success was the gravy.

    Sorry to sound so Pollyanna. I am a quite cynical person.
  3. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

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    Just for the record - you can't be both a Pollyanna and a cynic at the same time - one logically cancels the other.

    That said, in the Ukraine and former Soviet countries (among others) there were common practices about earnings (a cut of the skater's income) for elite coaches and I've not seen anything that even suggests that Galina got anything more than was customary. You're confusing the 10% for the agent with Galina's cut as coach (which, granted, is way more than 10%).

    And altruism? This was Galina's work. Does anyone ask you or me to do our full-time jobs for nothing because that would make us nicer people? What we contribute to is another story but no one says "I think you're donating Mondays and Tuesdays to this company."

    Your illustration concerning your own contribution though lovely and generous doesn't exactly mirror this situation - after you helped the young person pay for a private high school did you expect all the teachers to donate all their time? Because that's what you're saying.

    Coaching is work. Coaches are entitled to compensation for their time and skill just like the teachers in your story and everyone else who works for a living. In some cases (especially in poorer countries and certain situations) the coach's earnings come after the skater's success not before it because there is no money available without the success. Today in the U.S. many kids' parents pay coaches as they go (and it's darn expensive!) - but Galina got nothing for working with Oksana (Oksana, sadly, had no way to pay her) before Oksana actually earned money off her skating. You suggest that Galina should have donated all of the time she spent training her key student. Then how does Galina, a professional coach, put food on her table?

    As I said before, I have no impression from the filing that Oksana is looking to recover any part of Galina's earnings - am I missing something here? How did Galina get to be the bad guy in this discussion? I don't think she's even part of the law suit.

    If you want to debate the merits of various earnings arrangements for elite coaches that's fine - but that's another discussion.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  4. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

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    Willoway, you make a very good point. Galina is not even involved in this lawsuit. (Is it just my computer or has FSU gone down from 14 point to like 4 point? I can barely read without my glasses on, and I don't have my glasses on) If I mispell I am trying to correct but some things get passed. Anyway, in this tiny font I am writing conservatively, I do not mean to demonize Galina, but let Oksana just pay for those three years and be done. Didn't Hamill sue Fassi over that? It's like "Look coach, you got me the medal, but *I* did the work and had to overtrain and deal with competition nerves, andI pulled the performance out of my ass when it was do/die." The font is too low I can't type anymore.
  5. nursebetty

    nursebetty New Member

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    Maybe this is partly for publicity. It's very close to 2013. I would worry about an agent who thought she could carry a show when Scott is having a hard time with SOI.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  6. jenniferlyon

    jenniferlyon Well-Known Member

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    At some point, Oksana said those stories about her sleeping at the ice rink weren't true. Sorry, I don't have a link. That was nearly twenty years, three computers, and numerous email addresses ago. I also used to have an email buddy who was working on a biography of Oksana. He had traveled to her hometown of Dniepepetrovsk and interviewed people who knew Oksana from the time she was very small.

    IIRC, Oksana moved in with her childhood coach after her mother died. She stayed there for about a year, but then he took off for Canada. Somewhere I read that after the coach left and before Oksana moved to Odessa to train with Galina, she stayed in an athlete's dorm, of which there were many in the former USSR. I guess this is the kernel of truth behind the "sleeping at the ice rink" myth. My email buddy told me that the nascent Ukrainian Skating Federation was very aware of who Oksana was at that time-- she had competed at the Soviet Nationals when she was just twelve or thirteen. They were the ones who arranged for her to train with Galina. If Galina had declined for whatever reason, the federation would have arranged for Oksana to train elsewhere, perhaps in Kiev.

    It was one year/skating season before Oksana won Worlds; two years before Lillehammer.


    I'm not sure if that story about the medal is true or not. I seem to recall that Oksana gave the medal to Galina's elderly mother, with whom she was close. Perhaps Galina kept it after her mother passed away, but I don't know for sure.

    At any rate, both Oksana and Galina benefitted professionally from the arrangement. I don't think Galina was prepared for everything that awaited them after they came to the USA. How could she? She was a middle aged woman who had lived in the Soviet Union until it crumbled. I get the feeling that this was one of those scenarios that isn't uncommon among immigrants where the kid gets Americanized much more quickly than the adults. And in this case, the kid was an A-list celebrity. (My 14-year-old niece doesn't believe me when I tell her that figure skaters used to be big stars with their photos on the cover of People magazine and their misdeeds chronicled in the tabloids.)
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  7. DBZ

    DBZ Well-Known Member

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    Judging by this recent appearance on The Rosie Show, I'd say not true. Either that or Galina lent it out to her for this one occasion? :)
  8. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

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    Although I'm sure it wasn't much, I'm guessing the Ukrainian federation compensated Galina for coaching Oksana to some extent.

    And while the coach and possibly the federation taking a cut of earnings is customary in some parts of the world, Oksana's earnings were through the roof. They were far above the normal "earnings" so I think a cap would have been appropriate. Like the lesser amount of X% or $1,000,000. That still would have been generous but perhaps more reasonable.
  9. BittyBug

    BittyBug Quadless

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    Just to restate what has already been said in this thread, Bauil's suit is not against Zmievskaya so whatever compensation Galina may have received should not be at issue.
  10. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

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    If the compensation to Galina is specified in the contract, and it's not an amount that a reasonable Guardian would have advised her to sign off on, then it might be an issue.

    I was surprised to read this part:

  11. apatinar

    apatinar New Member

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    Oksana has her medal in her possession..
    She is in serious trouble though.. Since she met this new man, she sold her condo in NJ and moved away from the NYC area.. God only knows what happened to that money made from the sale... He then starts filling her head with a whole bunch of nonsense and hiring security guards for events when none are needed.. Many different money making schemes and lawsuits are now popping up...
    This man is going to take her straight to the cleaners and then leave her - mark my words....
  12. BittyBug

    BittyBug Quadless

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    That's a lot of ifs. How this thread got started down this road, I don't know. One poster alleged that Zmievskaya was taking 30%, but there was no link that I saw to substantiate that claim. And then everyone ran with it. Zmievskaya's been around this sport long enough that I think she deserves the benefit of the doubt until proven wrong, rather than idle speculation tarnishing her good name.
  13. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

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    I hope not. She's had such a tumultuous life. She needs to catch a break. That Rosie clip was interesting. She seemed a bit puffy, I'm just wondering if she's still drinking? It's hard to read her, and if anyone in this world would be described as being 'dramatic' it's this poor woman. You never can tell if she's going to burst into tears or into laughter. I hope she has friends to help her if this guy does indeed show himself to be a bad person.
  14. jenniferlyon

    jenniferlyon Well-Known Member

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    Under the old Soviet system, yes, the federation would have paid for everything. But I'm not sure what kinds of funds would have been available in Ukraine at the time. I'm guessing not much, but they probably provided what they could. I know the rink in Odessa was in a sorry state at that time; there were stories about green algae growing all over the ice. Viktor was the one who took care of the bulk of Oksana's skating expenses. He had won his OGM by then and was living in Vegas, performing in tours and shows. He reinstated for the 1993-94 season and returned to Odessa to train.
  15. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

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    I think I was the one who brought up the 30/40% figure. I know I read it somewhere, that Oksana said that was Galina's cut. The writer followed up with Galina and she refused to comment on the matter.

    I certainly don't mean to tarnish her good name. I think it was very kind of her to bring Oksana into her home and be both her coach and mother surrogate. There are no guarantees in life, and Oksana may never have developed her skating into superstardom, and Galina would know that. She obviously acted out of kindness and love for Oksana. I think she deserves a special acknowledgement for that.
  16. Rainbow

    Rainbow Active Member

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    I have no link, but I remember from commentary from German Eurosport and state tv at the time, that it was indeed customary for coaches in the ex soviet states to take 30% of the earnings of the prize money from competitions. It was just a different, performance-based system of paying for training fees.
  17. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    No - there is a picture somewhere in the forums that shows Oksana (recently) holding it in a frame. A friend of hers posted it. I don't believe Galina ever took the medal at any time - it was a rumor.

    If all of these problems stem from her youth and lack of English, then how would she know to even get a lawyer? People have clearly taken advantage of her. It's sad.
  18. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    I think we should wait for more facts before we determine whether William Morris indeed took advantage of her.
  19. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    Agree - just because her current boyfriend believes she's owed money doesn't mean she actually is. William Morris is major, long established company and while it's possible that some shady employees took advantage of Oksana, as a company I can't imagine that would be their practice.

    At the same time, this wouldn't be the first time that someone enters into a contract or other agreements and later regrets it, or takes bad advice and only realizes it later. She might never get the money from the past, but hopefully she learns from it, dusts herself off, and moves forward.
  20. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    At this point, it's hard to tell how much of her "tumultuous life" was in fact, true; or something invented by many hands, over time..
    That said. I hope that whatever the contract situation is, it can be worked out, justly.
  21. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    She was an orphan with no coach for a year or so. That can't be invented. Maybe you are suggesting that she used that story as a crutch for too long into her adult years? That is possible but we will never know.
  22. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    It does sound shady that her bf is her manager, but if he has already collected $9.5 million for her, he can't be such a bad guy - even if he sees dollar signs himself. What I don't understand is how that much money could be missing and she didn't even notice? Didn't she realize she was not getting paid for anything? Maybe she was so used to living in poverty, even a little bit of money seemed like a lot.

    Thanks for posting! I really loved the Lillehammer medals. They were so pretty. Oksana's speech/mouth seems to be different for some reason. Still love her though.
  23. Carolla5501

    Carolla5501 Well-Known Member

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    Considering she seemed to have a fairly affluent lifestyle I am not sure that she was only getting a "little bit of money" (Wasn't it a luxury car she had when she got the DUI?) However, that does bring up a point. If the agency did things like buy her a car that would have come out of her earnings then she wouldn't get the 'cash' I know that happens.

    I expect that she's not going to find the millions she wants but... the numbers sound to high...
  24. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

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    Agencies don't do things like buy people cars or even buy cars by instruction from talent - they are just supposed to deposit your money in your account. Hopefully, it's all the money that they're supposed to deposit! Proper talent agents do not deal in stuff or in-kind compensation - they collect money, take appropriate and contracted deductions and percentages, deposit the talent's share in the talent's account.

    How she spent (and spends) is not their doing. To the degree anyone would work with an athlete on items purchased, budgeting, paying bills, all that - that would be a manager not a talent agency. Talent agencies do their work up front - knowing where the opportunities are, fielding offers, drumming up offers, negotiating contracts for the athlete, making sure payment (in all forms - airline tickets, etc.) is made.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2012
  25. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    To preface what I say, I have no knowledge of the terms of the contracts that this lawsuit is addressing.

    However, IME it's not uncommon for new managers to "discover" that their client has been allegedly underpaid or ripped off by their previous managers. It makes the new manager look good to be able to point out all the wrongdoing of the previous manager. And in some cases, the client genuinely has been ripped off, and the new manager is correcting a wrong that the client either wasn't aware of, or couldn't get fixed on their own.

    In other cases, though, the new manager is reinterpreting the terms of previous contracts - to their client's benefit - and they money they get is basically go-away money from the companies who didn't actually do anything wrong but would sooner shell out some $$$ to be rid of the annoying manager. A very public and well-documented example of this is Allen Klein, who ran the Beatles' and the Rolling Stones' financial affairs for some time and managed to squeeze quite a bit of $$$ out of the record companies for them. However, he didn't do it as a public service - he took a hefty chunk of it himself, which is why both groups eventually ended up firing him (well, that and he lied to them both, but that's another story).

    The point being that if someone claims they have collected money on behalf of their client - and AFAIK in Oksana's case this is claimed in the lawsuit, I don't know if it's been agreed on as a fact by both parties - that doesn't mean the money was genuinely owed or that the previous managers actually ripped off the client.
  26. NadineWhite

    NadineWhite Well-Known Member

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    I haven't read the article or thread, but my first thought was she must be having a tough time of it financially.

    Such a sad story all around, sorry to see it end this way.

    But the memories, those I'll never forget, the way she skated, the way she expressed herself, like no one else, totally unique, an original. To this day she remains my favorite artistic skater of all time. And ah when she was on her jumps just flew, the russian way, that huge 3L! :kickass: The speed, the power, the flow....memories....
  27. jenniferlyon

    jenniferlyon Well-Known Member

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    Oksana was also one of only a handful of skaters who could perform to ANY kind of music. Today, most people remember her for her classical programs (especially "The Swan") but that girl was completely comfortable skating to anything-- Broadway showtunes, Spanish flamenco music, Michael Jackson, Enigma, Aerosmith. You never knew what she was going to do next, and I mean that in a good way.
  28. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

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    I think 30% of earnings was pretty standard arrangement for Russian coaches back in the 1990s. We have seen other skaters mention this figure. There comes a point though where a pro skater really does not need the same level of time and attention from a coach, so they should switch to a different arrangement.
  29. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    To be fair, though, the first thing new managers do is review old and existing contracts and arrange an accounting review. While there's most often a "I can do better" aspect/message, it's a good idea to find out the history instead of starting from scratch.
  30. Iceman

    Iceman Well-Known Member

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    I am concerned this story will eventually have a very tragic end. It seems headed that way. Does anyone know why Oksana separated from Galina and family? I suspect that was a bad move as both Galina and Victor seemed there for her. To be in the world without family is a dangerous place to be. Her birth family is gone and she doesn't seem to have been able to establish her own.
  31. tralfamadorian

    tralfamadorian Member

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    A couple more details from the courthousenews.com summary of the lawsuit: http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/11/21/52475.htm
  32. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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  33. leesaleesa

    leesaleesa New Member

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    Why do you say that? It's a matter of finding out how much assets she has, how much money is coming in steadily, how much debt is owed, and probably downsizing and figuring out how she's going to make money from now on. She's loopy for sure, but not a complete wreck.
  34. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    They were giving her money to people she had no legal relationship with. Or so the suit claims. ;)

    It sounds like they were paying companies for stuff related to Baiul. That happens all the time.
  35. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    Ukrainian Financial Group at least has a website, but "Olympic Champions Ltd." doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere on the Internetz except for in this lawsuit....
  36. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    It probably went out of business. :lol:
  37. Fancypancy

    Fancypancy New Member

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    She has burned so many people I think this will put
    the nail in her coffin
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  38. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

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    That's an extremely unfortunate metaphor. Hopefully she has a long and healthy life. As you reference though, she has burned so many bridges in the skating/producing community that she has very limited professional options going forward. I hope she can figure out something productive using her experience - the whole arc of her career is simply sad.

    I'm a New Yorker where 'observe and criticize' is a competitive sport and I can be a pro, but honestly I wouldn't want a minute of OB's life, even the good parts. What I feel for her is compassion.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
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  39. TDsk8

    TDsk8 New Member

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    She has it in her box at her home. I took a picture of her holding her other medals :oksana1: :)
  40. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    I didn't think it was worthwhile to start a new thread for this lawsuit. :shuffle:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/judge-throws-oksana-baiul-45m-lawsuit-nba-article-1.1768296
    ETA:
    http://www.law360.com/articles/412770/figure-skater-baiul-seeks-5m-from-nbc-for-using-her-image
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014