Actor Dwayne Johnson and his financial advisor ex-wife are slowly emerging from a heap of woes that included investors claiming she ripped them off.
White Buffalo, a movie company fronted by The Rock — who lives in Broward County — and controlled in part by ex-wife Dany Garcia, just settled a nasty lawsuit brought by an unhappy investor who claimed to have lost $150,000 she poured into the movie company.
Schoolteacher Eileen Agurcia agreed to a confidential settlement with the company, and the lawyers on both sides declined comment.
“I assume Dany paid some cash, but I don’t know how much,” said one source familiar with the half-dozen lawsuits brought against Garcia, White Buffalo, Garcia’s bankrupt investment firm JDM Partners and well-known Miami accountant Emery Sheer.
Agurcia was among a half dozen investors who said they lost a combined $8 million in ventures hawked by Garcia, who’s also the president of the powerful University of Miami Alumni Association.
Agurcia said she poured $150,000 into White Buffalo, which turned out to be a white elephant that put out low-budget movies that did poorly at the box office.
Agurcia’s attorney, David Milian, described Garcia in these terms in another lawsuit he filed on behalf of another investor: “Dany Garcia was the consummate swindler who, through charisma, charm and effective references to her affiliation with Hollywood’s elite; intimate meetings with the plaintiffs at their homes, and lunches in which she escorted the plaintiffs in her Bentley automobile, sought to gain the plaintiffs’ trust."
Wrestler-turned-actor Johnson ( Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Tooth Fairy) is not a defendant in any of the lawsuits but was referred to as a “co-conspirator” for having benefited from Garcia’s actions.
Miami Beach hotelier Renzo Rosso, the Italian designer of Diesel jeans and owner of The Pelican and Carlyle hotels, is losing his patience with a former employee whom he accused of stealing $2 million.
Rosso says Michele Merlo, the hotels’ general manager in the early 2000s, still owes him a ton of cash after Merlo allegedly agreed to pay Rosso back.
Merlo, who’s no longer employed by Rosso, already returned $1 million. The rest somehow ended up invested by Merlo in oil and gas exploration out west.
According to a settlement between the two, Merlo was supposed to assist in getting that money back, too.
So far, no luck. So Rosso asked a Miami-Dade circuit court judge Wednesday to hold Merlo in contempt and force him to pay up.
What hurts Rosso the most, according to the paperwork? It’s not that childhood friend Merlo’s dragging his feet; it’s that Merlo still lives at the ultra-expensive Continuum on South Beach.
’Tis the season for local celebs to use social media to wish fans well with kind words and funny photos on Christmas Day.
Among the favorites:
Miami Heater Chris Bosh, looking like a native Floridian with a Santa hat that read “Feliz Navidad.”
Miami Marlin Logan Morrison, who introduced the world to his live Christmas present, a pup named Stella Mae.
And the Palm Beach County-based world’s No. 1 golfer, Rory McIlroy, posed in a T-shirt that read Geek while his tennis champ galpal Caroline Wozniacki wore one that read Nerd.