Design and lifestyle gurus Chip and Joanna Gaines have, over the past decade, built a business empire worth nearly a billion dollars, by some estimates.
The Waco, Texas-based couple were described in a Variety profile last month as having “unparalleled reach and influence” in the “home, hearth, food and family” sectors, which includes the “conservation” of the Magnolia Network, a 24/7 cable channel that they co-own with Warner Brothers Discovery.
Chip, 48, grew up in Dallas, where his mother worked for a company that published books for the late televangelist Billy Graham.
“The impact this man has had on my life is immeasurable,” Chip said of Graham in a 2015 interview.
Joanna, 44, is also deeply spiritual, telling Oprah Winfrey last year that she often hears what she believes to be the literal voice of God.
“I’m very realistic,” she says. “I need to hear it. I’m literal. And that’s how He shows up for me.
But a venerable New York literary agent who has represented not only the Gaineses in book deals, but also Pope John Paul II, says they acted far from godly in their business dealings with him.
“While Joanna and Chip Gaines present themselves as moral Christians who allegedly act ethically insofar as they deal [me]nothing could be further from the truth,” says David Vigliano in a lawsuit filed Wednesday and obtained by The Daily Beast.
In the lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Vigliano, who has worked with writers from David Mamet to Kurt Cobain to Suzanne Somers, claims the Gaines “scandalous and arrogant breach of an agreement of edition” in 2017 defrauded him of millions.
Vigliano, in the simplest terms, was “screwed” by Chip and Joanna, according to his attorney.
“The reality is that we don’t have access to book sales, so we don’t know exactly what we’re owed,” Vigliano’s attorney, Larry Hutcher, told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “We need accounting.”
The Gaineses, who did not respond to a request for comment via their current literary agent, Byrd Leavell of the United Talent Agency (UTA), will receive copies of the lawsuit in the coming days, Hutcher said.
UTA is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Agency executives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The lawsuit describes Chip and Joanna as ‘internationally acclaimed reality TV stars who have achieved great fame and recognition for their show Upper fixator on the HGTV network, which aired from 2013 to 2018.” And though they’ve both become hits in their own right, Joanna has been the main draw in recent years, teaming up with Target and Anthropologie, for example, but not to Chip, to create lines of bedding and interior decoration, according to the costume.
In 2015, Vigliano brokered a three-pound deal for the couple with HarperCollins. The sales were “very successful” and in the end HarperCollins offered a new five-pound deal, the lawsuit says.
“However, since it was apparent that Joanna was the driving force behind the Gaines’ success, HarperCollins was only interested in entering into a new book deal with Joanna individually, not with Chip,” the filing alleges.
Joanna’s new contract came with a $12.5 million advance, for which she was to deliver two cookbooks and three non-fiction books “on a mutually agreed upon subject,” continues the court case. They would be published for five consecutive years and Joanna would earn an additional bonus of $250,000 per book, depending on sales.
Along with a list of various clauses relating to such things as the right of first refusal for a sixth book, the contract Joanna signed named Vigliano as her “sole and exclusive agent” for the duration of the five-book contract, and that he would receive a 7.5% commission on the sales of those five books, in perpetuity, according to the lawsuit.
At first things went well, says Vigliano. Joanna delivered her first two books, Table Magnolia: a collection of recipes to gatherand Magnolia Table, Volume 2: A collection of recipes to come togetherand Vigliano got all of his commissions.
However, in 2018 the Gaines fired their manager and hired UTA – and that’s when things started to fall apart for Vigliano, he says.
First, the lawsuit says Chip and Joanna liquidated their company, C&J Gaines, and replaced it with a new one called Magnolia Brands, LLC. Then, on July 7, 2020, the couple “executed a purported amendment” to the 2017 contract with HarperCollins. This reduced Joanna’s obligation to the publisher from five to four books, one of which would now be written by Chip, not Joanna.
As a result, Vigliano would only be paid for three books by Joanna and one by Chip, “whose popularity and fame do not match Joanna’s,” her lawsuit notes, adding that Chip was not a party to the deal. initial and cannot be added without permission from Vigliano.
“Joanna’s books are bestsellers and her brand encompasses all areas of food and lifestyle,” the suit continues. “Chip did not find the same success individually. HarperCollins knew this and kicked Chip out of the deal, despite having already entered into a book deal with Joanna and Chip.
Additionally, Vigliano claims that UTA brokered a “side deal” for Joanna to publish an additional book, The stories we tell, published last month. Joanna received a $7 million advance for the project, “and more is expected to be earned in royalties,” according to the lawsuit. And since the book was “delivered and published before any of the three remaining books in the deal,” the lawsuit says it should therefore count as the third of the original contract’s five titles.
Treating him as separate, according to Vigliano, was “an intentional violation” of the agreement intended to deprive him of his rightful product.
Vigliano is seeking “no less than” $2 million, plus interest, from Gaines and UTA for breach of contract and tortious interference.
“It’s really a very simple story,” Hutcher, Vigliano’s attorney, told The Daily Beast. “My instinct tells me that [Vigliano] caught in the crossfire between the Gaines’ desire to oust their current leadership and [Vigliano was] collateral damage.”
He added: “It is important [to consider] who you go into business with… They are people who profess to have the highest Christian values. But they had no problem ignoring my client’s rights, so it all depends on the character.
#Agent #Accuses #Fixer #Upper #Stars #Fucking #Book #Deal