Something big has changed at the offices of Wizard World, the people who put on the popular Wizard World conventions. Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Shamus has been fired. As a sendoff, the company has filed a lawsuit against him alleging that Shamus used his position as an organizer for celebrity guests at Wizard World conventions to illegally obtain and sell autographed merchandise, valued in the lawsuit at over $1 million. That’s a lot of graft.
Shamus was fired on October 27. A letter was sent to his lawyer demanding the return of the items which the then-Wizard World CMO allegedly sold. The company cited his alleged involvement with the theft of the items as one of the reasons for his firing.
According to the suit, first reported by The New York Post, Shamus was in charge of relation with the “nerdlebrities” and negotiated money-losing deals with celebrities who appeared at Wizard Worlds, seeking to get guests who would have the most valuable autographs at any cost, causing Wizard World to lose even more money.
This wasn’t sudden. It’s a situation that’s apparently been simmering for some time. Shamus produced a 2011 letter of employment from his brother, Gareb, who founded Wizard, and demanded to be paid according to its terms. According to the suit this letter is fraudulent, and when the current Wizard management took exception, Stephen tried to delete all his company emails.
According to the filing:
Defendant Shamus regularly arranged for the celebrities under contract with Wizard World to create autographed and/or collectible merchandise for Shamus’s personal benefit. Upon information and belief, celebrities would provide Shamus with autographs and/or items of value to generate collectible merchandise. The celebrities and artists provided these memorabilia, and/or merchandise during the course of Shamus’s duties for Wizard World (the “Stolen Memorabilia”). Shamus did not pay for the autographs on these items—the key component of their value—all of which were provided through plaintiff’s retention of the celebrity. Shamus later obtained authentication of the Stolen Memorabilia through a third party, using the Wizard World convention to establish authenticity, and arranged for the sale of the Stolen Memorabilia, sometimes through one or more outlets owned by members of his extended family in the New York metropolitan area. By way of example, Shamus routinely had Wizard World funded celebrities sign baseballs. He even arranged for the cast of “Back to The Future” to autograph mock hoverboards similar to the type made famous by Marty McFly.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent Shamus from selling any further material obtained from Wizard World conventions, as well as the return of all property sold in this manner. It also names ten “John Doe” defendants who are said to have aided Shamus in obtaining and selling autographed merchandise. This is legal speak for people the plaintiffs can’t yet identify, but plan to go after, and whose identities they hope to discover as the case progresses.
We also note that this means he has to go get all that stuff he sold back in order to return it, but there’s no telling what’s happened to the items once sold. They could easily have been sold and resold many times between then and now, so Shamus is over a barrel.
Shamus was one of Wizard’s earliest employees, having worked for the magazine and convention organizers since January 1991. His brother, Gareb Shamus, the founder of Wizard World, has not been with the company since 2011.
The New York Post reports that Shamus could not be reached for comment.