Classical business: return of the fraudster

Classical business: return of the fraudster


norman lebrecht

October 26, 2011

Barrett Wissmann, disgraced owner of the talent agency IMG Artists, was forced to step down from his front-office role after he copped a state prosecutor’s plea to securities fraud involving the state pension fund in upstate New York.

But you can’t keep a fixer down. Six months ago, Barrett secured a Russian investor to help save the classical business. This week, he’s declared he’s coming back as co-chairman after retiring his frontman Charles Hamlen and sharing the company 50-50 with his Russian saviour,¬†Alexander Shustorovich.

Two questions arise:

1 Will the International Arts Managers Association (IAMA) welcome Barrett back with a bouquet of roses, having previously insisted on his retirement?

2 How long will the happy couple enjoy their 50-50 split? About as long, I guess, as the first boardoom disagreement, after which things will either go one way or the other with stains on the carpet and the loser on the street.

Oh, and one further question. I hear Alex – a nice enough chap, by all accounts – is taking a leading role in IMG’s brand-new Moscow office. Was it, I wonder, he who fixed it with the Ministry of Culture for IMG Artist Vladimir Jurowski to ride in as rescuer of the Svetlanov State Symphony Orchestra?

Any answers? Here’s the IMG Artists statement.


wissman gheorgiu



(The diva on his right is Angela Georghiu. She seems to enjoy Barrett’s company).


  • Melanie P. says:

    I see some possible answers to my question of yesterday regarding the Jurowski move are starting to emerge.

  • Felix Robertson says:

    Dear Norman, This is actually quite funny, because Barrett Wissman never stopped being involved in the business. Shustorovich wasn’t brought in to save the business, which i have heard from the inside is doing extremely well. He was
    brought in to bring new capital to make acquisitions and go into new areas which they are aggressively looking at right
    now. I have heard they are equal in terms of ownership, but that Wissman still controls the voting. Time will only tell.