The Oahu university was expected to host Wonder at its Stan Sheriff Center Aug. 18, and it put down a $200,000 deposit. Thing is, Wonder hadn’t been informed of the gig.
The university has launched an internal investigation to figure out what went wrong, according to the island’s Star Advertiser.
The GM of the venue, Rich Sheriff, has been put on indefinite paid administrative leave, university officials announced. The concert was to benefit UH Athletics and the event was announced at a press conference by athletic director Jim Donovan. He, too, has been put on leave.
Donovan and Sheriff were escorted to their buildings and allowed to pack one box of belongings before turning in their keys, a source told Hawaii News Now. Donovan approved the concert deal without the knowledge of UH President MRC Greenwood and Sheriff was the campus contact with veteran Hawaii promoter Bob Peyton of BPE Productions, according to the paper.
UH-Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple said the school has contacted the FBI about the missing money. Apple added that the investigation will be conducted by an experienced, outside party, according to Star Advertiser.
Donovan said July 10 the benefit was canceled after school officials lost track of the deposit, which was given to an athletic fund to book the show. He added UH was trying to recover the money and said he “couldn’t speculate” if the university had been scammed.
Associated AD Carl Clapp signed the contract with Peyton on behalf of Donovan, a source told the News, and university attorneys approved the language. A source added that the school’s CFO authorized a wire transfer of $200,000 to a Miami company called Epic Talent, which appears to be a middle-agent that is not listed in Pollstar’s database and, according to state records, has been in business 150 days. Wonder’s agent of record is CAA.
Peyton had no comment to Pollstar but apparently told the News that he, too, wired $50,000 to Epic, managed by Sean Barriero according to Corporationwiki.com.
Although the university had already sold 6,000 tickets on an 11,000-cap concert, it received news July 10 from CAA that Wonder wasn’t available on the date -- which is another way of saying the university "booked" a show without CAA even knowing about it. The contract, according to a letter released by Peyton, has the boilerplate clause that the deposit is only refundable if it is the fault of the artist. However, UH canceled at this point, Peyton told the News, and noted he told officials he never agreed to the cancellation.
“I have been doing concerts in Hawaii for over 40 years and my reputation is dear to me,” he told the paper, adding that he would work to get the show back on track for its worthy cause.
Officials said ticket buyers who paid with credit would get refunded within seven days.
UH Vice President Rockne Freitas, a former assistant AD, has been named acting athletic director, the Star Advertiser reported.
A CAA representative was not available at post time.