“The Last Unicorn” Returns Home: Renowned Fantasy Author & Screenwriter Peter S. Beagle Prevails After Multi-Year Legal Battles Against Elder Abuse and to Regain Control of His Literary Legacy

F1D4CE5A-D962-441A-BCB0-E9DAACFE4AC7A Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America 2018 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master, Beagle’s best-known work is “The Last Unicorn”, a fantasy novel, which Locus Magazine subscribers voted the number five “All-Time Best Fantasy Novel” in 1987. A prolific and multi-award winning author, the 81-year old’s “The Last Unicorn” was included in TIME’s list of “100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time,” published in October 2020. TIME describes these books as “the most engaging, inventive and influential works of fantasy fiction, in chronological order beginning in the 9th century.” The IP spans the entire breadth of the acclaimed author’s decades-long career and includes newer works that have never been seen by the public.

In 2015 Peter Beagle sued his ex-manager. After four difficult years, in July 2019 the Superior Court of California issued a judgement in Beagle’s favor. According to the decision, Beagle won on four out of six causes that went to trial: “financial elder abuse (which Plaintiff also characterized as “elder abuse – constructive fraud”); Fraud; Breach of Fiduciary Duty; and Defamation (Slander).” Kathleen Hunt, Beagle’s attorney in the case said, “We sued because Peter had suffered from a host of injuries including fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. When the trial was about to begin – actually hours before we were scheduled to be in Court – his ex-manager filed for bankruptcy.” Hunt, Beagle’s estate planning lawyer, stepped up and took on the case pro bono after it became increasingly clear that Beagle was being abused. The Court decided to bifurcate some of the bankruptcy matters from the claims made in the original case. “First we won the trial, and then Peter and I followed his ex-manager right to the Bankruptcy Court. Peter wanted his reputation and his life’s work back. I couldn’t be happier” added Hunt.

James “Jamie” Null, a partner at Loeb & Loeb’s Capital Markets and Corporate practice in New York City, coordinated Beagle’s representation in the bankruptcy matter. Null said, “While it is a sad commentary that it took Peter so many years to get back what he already had, we are delighted to be looking forward to advising on the wonderful possibilities that come with reintroducing millions of new readers and viewers to the amazing world that Peter created.” Loeb & Loeb’s strong and deep core competencies in a variety of areas, including Bankruptcy (particularly with respect to publishing and media assets,) library acquisitions, copyright and artist estate planning allowed the case to get to the finish line. Null began the multi-year bankruptcy process with his Eversheds Sutherland colleague at the time, William Dudzinksy. “There was a significant and dedicated years-long group effort — including attorneys and other fellow travelers like Lauren Sands –– to give back to Peter some measure of control and the economics to the vast majority of his life’s work,” added Null. “It is somewhat unique in the media space to have such a complete body of an author’s work, where the author has real creative input and a dedicated and experienced group of partners and advisors that are respectful of the works and author while also being practical business minded professionals,” continued Null. The bankruptcy case has allowed Beagle indirectly to retain a significant part of his IP, and to reacquire certain rights with respect to The Last Unicorn, including author-driven sequels.

For Peter Beagle, his journey over the past several years has reinforced the dangers of elder abuse and the urgent need to shine a spotlight on this far too common and sinister crime. Older people, and often older writers, can be easy targets, particularly individuals whose age might make them more susceptible to claims that they’re in cognitive decline. These types of insidious suggestions and claims – notions that someone has dementia or looks like “they’re losing it” — serve to reinforce typical fears, creating and heightening self-doubt even when it is not warranted. The result can be terrifying for any vulnerable older person. The risk for the elderly is great when confronted by someone like Beagle’s former manager who, as described by the Superior Court of California in Beagle’s case, “…presents as an extremely intelligent, articulate, overly-aggressive hustler and pitchman…[with]…a flair for the dramatic that is at best loosely based in truth.”

“I’ve known older people who were seriously abused,” said Beagle. “So I can understand, on a bad day, the self-doubt, the terror. Writers don’t know how we do what we do. We don’t know what it was that came and then left us. That makes it awfully easy for us to believe the doubt even when it shouldn’t be there.”

One of Beagle’s future projects will be to advocate and raise awareness about elder abuse, with plans for the creation of a non-profit to address this issue in the works. But Beagle’s focus right now is on getting down to business, working in partnership with SHP to explore new projects based upon his extensive library of works, now back within his creative control, and continuing to write new material. “I’m going to be working. For me, that’s perfect. There are so many possibilities. This feels like a rebirth. I’m not only still here, I’m more still here.”

You can find out more at his new website here.

 

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Sixty Years Of Peter S. Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place!

DBD290D8-673E-4571-A6B5-537B8B9F090CSixty years ago, Peter S. Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place was first published in hardcover by Viking Press which simply says “First published in 1960” on the copyright page. (ISFDB doesn’t list an exact date either. However, it was mentioned twice in the New York Times in May 1960.) Clute at the Encyclopaedia of Fantasy calls it “a Supernatural Fiction in chamber-opera form“.

Published before he turned twenty one, it’s been in print since, along with The Last Unicorn. It is a very well written novel for a first time author. Though it won no Awards itself, it certainly contributed towards his World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master awards.

Charles de Lint says of it that, “A Fine and Private Place is just as wonderful as I remembered it to be: beautifully written, the characters warmly drawn, the pages filled with conversations that range the gamut of the human condition. In these days of everything coming in quick sound bites, at a faster and faster pace, Beagleís novel might seem quaint as it takes its time to tell its story. But you know, thereís a reason that people still read Dickens and Austin, and there’s a reason they’ll appreciate this book: quality counts.“

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A Judgement is Rendered Finally

The first step in Peter’s long journey is complete: the court has entered judgment against Connor Cochran for committing elder abuse (constructive fraud), fraud, defamation (slander), and breach of fiduciary duty. All the details are in this detailed Statement of Decision from the judge. (No punitive damages were assessed, but that’s because of the bankruptcy; the law says that you can’t get an award of punitive damages if the defendant can’t pay.) Peter still doesn’t have his rights back, but that’s the next step. Stay tuned!

You can read the Statement of Decision here.

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Fans Against Fraud ends legal battle with Conlan Press

Statement by Patrick Lake

Hello, for an introduction, I’m not known by many people in this story and have said little directly about myself so far. That’s how false impressions have been spread, but the simple truth is I was pulled in like many who found themselves cheated. My background is in animation, with art credits in TV and movies. Independently I started a business as a book dealer, which lets me provide support for others. Making a donation in response to a call for help for creators rights led to certain business dealing with Connor Cochran, but little did I know the lengths that people will go to cheat others. Nobody knows the costs I paid to prevail in a situation of breathtaking abuse, but my personal stake was always about stopping it and not going quiet because of retaliation. At this point I think we all know who the good guys and bad guys are, and there never should have been false impressions about that. Now here are a few words about legal matters:

Peter S. Beagle, creator of The Last Unicorn, has been in legal battle with his ex-manager Connor Cochran since late 2015.  And in 2014, as a result of efforts by Fansagainstfraud.com to publicize certain business practices of Cochran and his Conlan Press, Cochran entered a public relations and legal battle with one of the persons who was critical of him in the past.  That is me, and I sued Cochran with a cross-claim. I was supported by Peter Beagle and witnesses who responded to a public call for help. For more details on that, go here.

On February 17, 2019, after years of threats and running through five different lawyers, and after repeatedly asking the court to continue the trial date since May 2017 — even though he publicly claimed to want to get me into a courtroom —  Connor Cochran agreed to dismiss his claims after the court wouldn’t give him one more continuance.  Cochran agreed to dismiss his claims against me, in exchange for dismissal of my claim based upon Cochran’s unfounded public statements that I had forged, or “caused to be forged,” his signature and that of his assistant, decade-long suspended attorney Charles Petit, on a contract between myself and Cochran.

Cochran only claimed his signature had been forged once I hired an attorney —  several months after I had already sent Cochran a copy of the allegedly forged document with a request for payment due, to which Cochran had replied by promising payment.  Until Cochran dismissed his claims against me, a handwriting expert with over 30 years’ experience (including with the U. S. Treasury Department and the California Dept. of Justice) was scheduled to testify in court that it was a virtual certainty that the signatures were authentic, not forgeries.

I took a default judgement against Conlan Press on the date of trial, February 19, 2019, with a $32,000 claim open to future pursuit. Conlan Press is in bankruptcy.  The end of the legal battle allows both sides to return to their lives. My side has never been fully told until this statement, and I’m not interested in adding further public comments. My gratitude goes to those who supported me and continue to support Peter Beagle.

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A Sweet Offer: The Last Unicorn Nail Wraps

535C5F73-3E7C-45F1-88E0-0EE22212F311Interested in some neat The Last Unicorn themed product that’s been personally endorsed by Peter and benefits him as well? Well do I have a very sweet deal for you!

Peter says to tell me to share code UNICORN10 with you which will grant you 10% off of all The Last Unicorn nail wraps and you can go here to view all neat designs you can purchase.

Yes nail wraps based off The Last Unicorn film in a number of quite charming designs that any of you who are fans of Peter and who wear such will be delighted to discover. And as I said before, Peter benefits from every purchase you make here!

I should note that these  wraps are officially licensed from ITV, the holder of the film rights.

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In Memoriam, Ursula K. LeGuin

9EDBB28F-1438-4032-A184-2015DAD5E517It takes the shiny off everything. Everything. Including the pure shameless pride of being declared a Damon Knight Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. All of it.

I’m a good writer. I know that perfectly well, after some sixty years of doing whatever it is I do, and then doing it over. But I’m not shuffling my feet, looking down and mumbling shyly when I say that on my best day, with the wind at my back and the fish biting, I couldn’t have carried Ursula K. LeGuin’s spare gym socks. I know that equally well. Sharing a great honor with her won’t ever change that.

I didn’t know her well. She lived in Portland, and I’ve been all over northern California in the last half-century, with six years out for the Seattle area. We hadn’t yet met when I followed her by a week into the Clarion West workshop (1972, was it?), to be greeted by a note saying, “Welcome, Unicorn! Make the little kobolds work their tails off!) Mostly we ran into each other at various conventions, grabbing coffee where we could. I do like to recall a serious conversation, initiated by me in increasing alarm at having become known more and more, in the intervening years, as the Unicorn Guy. Meanwhile, Ursula’s recently-published Earthsea novels had, as far as I was concerned, put paid to dragons as literary figures: I felt – and still feel – that dragons should be off-limits to all other writers, no matter how gifted or inventive they might be. But I was younger then, and had the chutzpah to offer to trade my unicorns even-up for her dragons. “Unicorns are really easy to housebreak. They always ask to go outside.” I remember that I was even willing to throw in a utility infielder, if she insisted.

Ursula’s response: “Do you know how impossible it is to keep dragons off the curtains? And they’re absolute hell on carpets!” We never did make the deal, but not for my lack of trying. As I say, I was younger then.

I’ve often told the story of appearing onstage with Ursula and Vonda McIntyre in 1975, at Oregon State University in Corvallis, the three of us speaking about being considered genre writers, inhabitants of a certain ghetto: our work generally tolerated – even loved, in certain corners of the ghetto – but almost invariably unrespected as real, proper, literary fiction. Some of the male students in the back of the auditorium began to complain loudly that they’d come to hear talk about ​ good old rocket-jockey science fiction, and not this “shrill feminism!​”​ Ursula, sitting on my left, turned to Vonda on my right, saying severely, “Vonda, I don’t know how many times I’ve told you about being shrill!” Vonda responded calmly, – without missing a beat, “No, Ursula dear – I’m strident. You’re shrill.”

Me? I sat between them, absolutely vain of actually knowing those two women, and trying very hard not to giggle. I can’t honestly remember whether I managed it or not.

In fact, she was never shrill. Fierce, yes. Intense, yes, with a great many things that she wanted to say, since no one else was saying them. Deadpan funny, always, even at her most passionate. Pissed-off, certainly, of course, as she bloody well should have been – as she bloody well needed to be. She meant business, Ursula did, and never a doubt of it. But kind, always, with the angry compassion of her Space Crone. Forever fiercely, stubbornly kind.

In my introduction to the 2017 Tachyon anthology New Voices of Fantasy, I wrote:

“Years ago, knowing that I was scheduled to speak at the annual meeting of [SFWA]…Ursula LeGuin​,​ wisest of us all, warned me as follows: ‘Remember that most of your audience will be drunk by the time you get up to speak, and remember always that all of us feel, to one degree or another, that mainstream fiction has been stealing our ideas – and even our classic cliches – for generations, and selling them back to us as Magic Realism. Tell them that, loudly and repeatedly, and the ones who can still stand up will be buying you drinks all night. And never forget that this is a small, highly incestuous group, and a lot of people have been married to, or sleeping. with other members of the group – so watch what you say.'”

There’s nothing I can say about her now that isn’t all over the Internet today, and won’t be providing endless exhausting doctorates, seminars, fellowships and festivals tomorrow, and in the years to come. She was the master. She still is. She lived as full and honorable a life as anyone could have, and she got her work done. But I don’t believe for a minute that she ever thought she’d gotten her work done. The truly great ones never do. There’s always more.

Photo is used under a Creative Commons license from Wikipedia.

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Connor Cochran files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

I was not at all surprised to learn that Connor Cochran and his Ariosto companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 4, just one day before trial was scheduled to begin in Peter‘s lawsuit against his former manager.

As you likely knew by know, Peter’s sued Cochran in 2015 for $52 million in damages, disgorgement of illegal gains and restitution, and to dissolve the two corporations he co-owns with Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press.

Cochran filed with United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. The details are public record. Needless to say the trial against he who I call the Rat Bastard (a term he told me in an email he thinks is unfair) is delayed.

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The Rat Bastard Loses: Cochran’s countersuit against Peter is Thrown Out!

Fantastic news for those rooting for Peter S. Beagle in his lawsuit against his former business manager, Connor Cochran! On Tuesday, November 7th 2017, the Superior Court of Alameda County threw out Cochran’s countersuit against Peter. It was dismissed with prejudice, which means Cochran can’t try it again. Peter’s suit against Cochran continues. The trial will begin as scheduled on January 5th, 2018.

In English instead of Legalese: Peter Beagle sued Connor Cochran for $52M. Connor tried countersuing. The judge looked at the list of documents and records Cochran had failed to produce under the court’s order to do so.

Cochran’s suit against Peter is done. The Court has thrown it out, calling Cochran’s behavior “unusual and egregious”.

Here’s the official public judgement. It’s a thing of beauty. Enjoy!

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Kickstarter for new The Last Unicorn merchandise

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Geekify Inc is running a Kickstarter campaign for new Last Unicorn merchandise, starting with pins, posters and a beautifully illustrated tarot deck with illustrations such as The Star and The Devil which you can see respectively at the right and the left of the above illustration. This is licensed directly from ITV; in addition, Geekify has generously agreed to donate a small portion of the proceeds to Peter directly, so go right ahead and back it on Kickstarter here.

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Oh My: The Lastest Court Filing

As Peter’s lawsuit against his former manager gets closer to its January court date, look for the public filings to start coming closer together. This latest filing is detailed and really illuminating read.

You can read the filing here.

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