'Girls Gone Wild' Files For Bankruptcy; Joe Francis' Legal Troubles With Steve Wynn Catch Up To Flailing Company

on March 01 2013 10:35 AM
Francis
In what is reportedly a move to protect itself from multimillion-dollar debts and legal awards, Joe Francis’ “Girls Gone Wild” franchise has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Reuters

In what is reportedly a move to protect itself from multimillion-dollar debts and legal awards, Joe Francis’ “Girls Gone Wild” franchise has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

GGW made its name in the early 2000s with videos featuring college-age girls drinking, exposing themselves and/or having sex, usually at parties, clubs and events.

Company founder Joe Francis has been under stringent legal fire in recent years, with GGW racking up more than $13 million in jury awards and $2 million in other debts. It listed its assets at less than $50,000.

Most notably, Francis has recently become the loser in a highly publicized legal battle with casino mogul Steve Wynn. As a result, Francis is indebted to the Vegas tycoon for a reported $10.3 million, including a $7.5 million slander award last year and a disputed $2 million gambling debt.

Additionally, a St. Louis woman sued Francis' company in 2008 to collect $5.8 million she was awarded after claiming someone exposed her breasts in a bar for the “Girls Gone Wild Sorority Orgy” series.

The woman claimed in her federal suit that Francis evaded creditors by changing the names of his businesses, transferring assets and closing accounts.

While GGW magazine and GGW Events also filed for protection, the company issued a statement saying the bankruptcy filing, which was made Wednesday in Los Angeles, will not affect its operations.

"Just like American Airlines and General Motors, it will be business as usual for Girls Gone Wild," the company said in a statement.

GGW Brands filed for bankruptcy "to restructure its frivolous and burdensome legal affairs," Francis' executive assistant said in an email to Bloomberg News. She also suggested Francis has not owned the company for two years.

According to a Bloomberg report, Francis owns assets that could be used to satisfy the judgment, including a 1971 Gulfstream jet worth at least $2 million, a $10 million mansion in Bel Air, Calif., and a $30 million beachfront estate in Punta Mita, Mexico. GGW trademarks for videos, websites and clothing and apparel total more than $20 million.

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