The estate for legendary Marvel creator Stan Lee has filed a lawsuit against a former manager, claiming he took advantage of Lee’s declining health to make himself millions of dollars.
According to court documents obtained by The Blast, Lee’s daughter, Joan Celia Lee, is suing Mac “Max” Anderson, a former security guard who became Lee’s road manager after the two met at San DiegoComic-Con in July 2016.
The lawsuit begins like something Lee himself would have written:
Lee’s fictional villains were diabolical manipulators who typically elicited the assistance of unscrupulous co-conspirators to capitalize on good-natured and otherwise vulnerable members of society who, for various reasons, could not defend themselves. Unfortunately, when Lee met Defendant Anderson, his fictional and real worlds collided.
In 2007, the lawsuit claims that Lee and Anderson struck a deal for Anderson to become Lee’s “primary agent” for booking him at memorabilia events and various other promotional appearances. The estate claims that Anderson had Lee sign documents and agreements “that Lee could not read and did not understand.”
As part of their arrangement, the estate claims that Anderson and Lee entered into three separate “oral joint venture agreements” — one for memorabilia events, one for merchandising, and one for the Stan Lee Museum.
The memorabilia event agreement, the estate claims, called for Anderson to collect a fee ranging between 10-25% of what Lee was paid.
But the estate claims that Anderson “drastically understated” what he collected for the events on Lee’s behalf and claims Anderson often kept “five times” more money for himself for event than what Stan Lee received. The estate also claims Anderson paid his own personal living expenses out of the money Lee made for the events.
The estate also claims that Anderson failed to disclose certain revenue streams entirely and collected 100% for himself.
For example, the estate claims that when Lee attended New York City Comic Con in 2017, Anderson collected over $800,000 from various revenue streams and only gave Lee $50,000 of it.
The merchandising agreement worked similarly and the estate claims Anderson acted in the same manner. In addition to the similar claims about the memorabilia event agreement, the estate claims that Anderson entered into side agreements where buyers would pay Anderson “kick-back payments” for doing things Lee was already paying him for.
For the Stan Lee Museum, the estate claims that Lee agreed to lend “many of his most valuable personal possessions” for the museum. Lee, the estate claims, “made it very clear” that he intended to retain full ownership over the items.
Lee and Anderson were to split the proceeds 50/50.
But the estate claims that Anderson kept 100% of the gross revenues of the museum, never paid Lee his share, and forced Lee to pay “large sums of money to store, ship and operate the Museum and then not repay Lee for such advanced costs from the Museum gross revenues.”
The lawsuit also claims that Anderson conspired with a man named Derek Tan to create a separate company, Excelsior Collectibles, to “hide his various undisclosed profits” he made off Lee.
The estate further claims that Stan Lee’s nurse late in life, Linda Sanchez, also conspired with Anderson “in the removal, taking, secreting, obtaining and retention of many items of Lee’s Personal Property from Lee’ home without Lee’s permission or consent as Lee’ health deteriorated and the Defendants worried Lee could pass away.”
To try and “cover his tracks,” the estate finally claims that Anderson “would surreptitiously videotape and/or otherwise record Le with exposed and/or hidden recording devices, and have him sign documents under false pretenses, all in an effort to obtain false evidence of Lee’s apparent satisfaction with Defendant Anderson’s management of the Joint Ventures.”
The estate is suing for breach of contract and elder abuse and they are seeking unspecified damages.