David Rafael Bergstein
August 9, 1962 (age 59)
|Occupation||Film producer, entrepreneur, investment banker|
|Years active||1984 – present|
David Rafael Bergstein (born 1962) is a former American financier, entrepreneur and film producer. He started his career in real estate development before expanding his business interests to buying up distressed assets and branched out into independent film production between 2003 and 2010. Bergstein served as CEO of Cyrano Group, a private equity and advisory firm that he founded, until 2018, when he was convicted of defrauding investors out of $26 million. Bergstein is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence.
Early life and education
After graduating high school early, Bergstein went on to receive a BS with a concentration in pre-medicine and mathematics at Polytechnic Institute of New York University. He also later attended the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. During his time in law school, Bergstein went on to become a research analyst, first for Salomon Brothers and then for Bear Stearns, where he specialized in the analysis of troubled or undervalued companies.
After relocating to Los Angeles in 1984, Bergstein made a career buying and selling real estate which later transferred into real estate development. By the 1990s, Bergstein shifted his business focus from real estate to focus on acquiring or advising on distressed operating companies and debt. Bergstein later founded the Cyrano Group, a private equity and advisory firm, where he served as CEO.
In 2003, Bergstein and business partner Ron Tutor loaned money to Franchise Pictures, a film production company headed by Elie Samaha. When the company went bankrupt, Bergstein and Tutor became owners of dozens of Franchise's films. By 2006, they had also acquired Capitol Films and ThinkFilm, in the process becoming major players in the independent film sector.
In March 2010, fourteen creditors attempting to force the five companies controlled by Bergstein and Tutor into Chapter 11 bankruptcy were granted an emergency motion by a court to have an interim trustee appointed to oversee the companies. Capitol Films and ThinkFilm were formally declared bankrupt by a Federal judge in October 2010, and Bergstein's remaining three companies—R2D2, CT-1 Holdings and Capco—in 2011. One of the creditors that had forced Bergstein's companies into bankruptcy, Aramid Entertainment Fund, had its claims against Bergstein's companies dismissed in 2012 — a judgment that was upheld by an appellate court in 2013. In 2012 the former in-house counsel for Capitol Films who had left the company to work for Aramid, was successfully sued by Bergstein for breach of fiduciary trust and malpractice and ordered to pay $50 million in damages to Bergstein. In 2014, another creditor, Screen Capital International, had its claims rejected by a federal judge. Lawyers successfully argued that it was not a legitimate creditor because it had purchased the claims from another entity. The U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts dismissed the outstanding involuntary bankruptcy cases in 2016.
Bergstein also took an advisory role in the sale of Miramax in 2010 to an investor group that included his partner, Ron Tutor. The purchase, for $660 million, included the rights to more than 700 library titles. In 2012, Bergstein sued the owners of Miramax alleging they had reneged on paying him a $6.1 million fee and a 3.33 percent stake as compensation for his role in the acquisition; the litigation ended two weeks later when Bergstein and Miramax reached a settlement.
On November 9, 2016, Bergstein was arrested at his Hidden Hills, California home after being indicted for fraud, and was convicted by a Federal jury on March 1, 2018 of defrauding investors out of $26 million. In June 2018 Bergstein was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. Bergstein cried as he requested leniency but United States federal judge P. Kevin Castel said his crimes needed to be "punished severely" to "send a message".
In 2011, Bergstein, along with his wife Sara, formally dedicated the Conejo Jewish Academy's adult education program to Bergstein's father, naming the program "Leonard Bergstein Jewish Academy." Bergstein currently serves on the board of the Sheriff's Youth Foundation, a youth program run by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and the board at the Grossman Burn Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting burn survivors and their families. Bergstein is also a featured contributor for Huffington Post, the Times of Israel, the Algemeiner online newspaper, and other periodicals.
The films Bergstein has been involved in include:
- 2010 – Love Ranch (Producer, uncredited)
- 2010 – 6 Souls (Executive Producer)
- 2010 – Father of Invention (Executive Producer)
- 2009 – Black Water Transit (Executive Producer)
- 2008 – $5 a Day (Executive Producer)
- 2008 – The Edge of Love (Executive Producer)
- 2008 – Blackout (Executive Producer)
- 2007 – Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Executive Producer)
- 2006 – .45 (Producer)
- 2006 – Alpha Male (Producer)
- 2006 – Bordertown (Producer)
- 2005 – Chaos (Executive Producer)
- 2005 – The Wendell Baker Story (Executive Producer)
- 2005 – Dead Fish (Producer)
- 2005 – The Whole Ten Yards (Executive Producer)
- 2004 – Laws of Attraction (Producer)
- 2004 – Spartan (Producer)
- Eller, Claudia; Friedman, Josh (August 25, 2008). "A tough Hollywood debut". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- "David Bergstein Huffington Post". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- "Bloomberg | Company Overview of Cyrano Group, Inc. - Executive Profile of David Bergstein".
- Fritz, Ben (March 18, 2010). "Creditors attempting to force David Bergstein's companies into bankruptcy (updated)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
- Fritz, Ben (March 30, 2010). "Court appoints trustee to oversee Bergstein's companies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- Lang, Brent (October 6, 2010). "Bergstein's ThinkFilm, Capitol Films Declared Bankrupt". The Wrap. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
- Fritz, Ben (February 9, 2011). "David Bergstein's three remaining companies forced into bankruptcy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- Lang, Brent (February 9, 2011). "Bergstein's Remaining Companies Pushed into Bankruptcy". The Wrap. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
- Sundar, Sindhu (April 30, 2014). "Bergstein Beats Aramid's $190M Suit in NY Appeals Court". Law360. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved April 10, 2014.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Patten, Dominic (August 22, 2012). "Capitol's David Bergstein Awarded $50M+$500K In Lawsuit Against Ex-Counsel". Deadline Holywood. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Randles, Jonathan (August 21, 2012). "Bergstein Wins $49.5M From Atty For Forced Bankruptcies". Law360. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Winnick, Zach (August 13, 2012). "Ex-Bergstein Atty Admits Targeting Companies For Bankruptcy". Law360. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Randles, Jonathan (August 14, 2012). "Ex-Bergstein Atty Said She Would Destroy Docs, Jury Hears". Law360. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Chutchian, Maria (March 10, 2014). "Screen Capital's Claims Axed From Bergstein Bankruptcies". Law360. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2014.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Nicolai, Megan (March 28, 2016). "Federal Courts Approve Settlement and Dismissal of Involuntary Bankruptcy Cases Filed Against Noted Film Entrepreneur David Bergstein". PRWeb. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
- Schucker, Lauren A. E. (July 31, 2010). "Hollywood Outsiders to Buy Miramax". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on December 21, 2013. Retrieved March 26, 2010.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Fritz, Ben (April 9, 2012). "David Bergstein sues Miramax owners". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Fritz, Ben (April 24, 2012). "Miramax and David Bergstein settle lawsuit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
- "Producer David Bergstein Arrested in $26M Fraud". The Hollywood Reporter. Associated Press. November 9, 2016. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
- Maddaus, Gene (March 2, 2018). "David Bergstein Convicted of Defrauding Investors Out of $26 Million". Variety. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
- "Producer David Bergstein Gets Eight Years in Prison for Fraud". Associated Press. June 27, 2018. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
- Conejo Jewish Academy: A project of Chabad of the Conejo—Dedicated in Memory of Leonard Bergstein
- "Three New Members Join Foundation Board". Sheriff's Youth Foundation of Los Angeles County. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- "David Bernstein". The Algemeiner. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- "I Variety Profile – David Bergstein". Variety, 2009. Archived from the original on April 13, 2010.