Filings show continuing battle over Britney Spears’ finances
By Liz Day and Rachel Abrams
For more than a month, Britney Spears’ lawyer has been making demands that the former business manager of her estate hand over basic financial information as part of an examination of the nearly 14 years of her conservatorship. Lawyers for the firm have largely refused.
Court documents filed recently show that a battle over financial disclosures is playing out even though the conservatorship was terminated by a judge Friday.
Spears’ lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, has indicated he plans to pursue the financial inquiry regardless of the conservatorship’s status. Spears’ estate is estimated at nearly $60 million, but her legal team wants to investigate whether any money was mismanaged during the conservatorship.
The financial disputes are expected to be addressed at a court hearing scheduled for Jan. 19.
Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group, a firm run by Louise Taylor that provides entertainers and athletes with accounting and financial services, resigned last fall after serving as the estate’s business manager for over a decade.
In September, Rosengart asked lawyers for Tri Star a central question: How much money was Tri Star paid by Spears or her estate during the conservatorship?
In a heated email exchange, lawyers for Tri Star repeatedly responded that the answer was in the court accountings that the firm had already shared but would not provide a number.
In the documents filed last week, Rosengart accused Tri Star of “continued stonewalling.”
Lawyers for Tri Star and Spears declined to comment.
On Oct. 1, Rosengart issued subpoenas to Tri Star and its employee Robin Greenhill, who worked closely on Spears’ account. The requests for discovery and depositions focus on Tri Star’s compensation during the conservatorship, the estate’s business entities and communications about creating the conservatorship, Spears’ medical treatment, and any surveillance of the pop singer.
A lawyer for Tri Star, Scott Edelman, asked the court to limit the subpoenas to cover only a narrow dispute over the estate’s accounting in 2019. In the filing, Edelman said that Tri Star had passed along its books to the estate’s current business manager and that the firm would not produce documents from accountings before 2019 that had already been approved by the court.
Also in dispute in the legal exchange is whether Tri Star has a copy of its written contract with the estate and whether Tri Star was a fiduciary, which typically would have required the firm to put the interest of its client ahead of its own.
A declaration by Greenhill submitted to the court said that “no one at Tri Star is aware of any hidden electronic surveillance device placed in Ms. Spears’ bedroom.” The New York Times first reported allegations in the documentary “Controlling Britney Spears” that security firm Black Box Security monitored Spears’ phone, including her communications with her lawyer, and secretly recorded her in her bedroom.
Two weeks ago, a court filing disclosed that Rosengart in August served Spears’ father, James, with requests for extensive discovery and a sworn deposition, including how much money he has received from his daughter’s estate during the conservatorship. James Spears was suspended as overseer of her estate by the court Sept. 29.
A lawyer for James Spears then filed court papers stating that he would unconditionally cooperate with transferring all records to Britney Spears’ lawyer.
But in comments to the news media after the termination hearing Friday, Rosengart said James Spears has not responded to a single document request and has twice failed to appear for his deposition.