Left holding the bag

Seven On Your Side
July 24, 2009 8:47:32 PM PDT
It was supposed to be a chance for publicity for a designer of high-end handbags. But then some of them were stolen from a star-studded film festival. Months had gone by and the event marketer had not repaid the designer as promised. "For me, it has to be beautiful. Or why bother doing it." Jane August is talking about her line of handbags. They're high-end, leather and python bags. You may have seen them being modeled on the red carpet on the arms of celebrities. "I had some great pictures of Paris Hilton, of Michelle Trachtenberg, and some other celebrities."

Late last year she was asked to send bags to a swag tent at the Sundance Film Festival. Some bags were given away, some were to be sold. "After the festival, apparently everything went into a locked cage," said the designer. "Not only handbags, but other merchandise. And then there was a robbery."

That meant $8650 worth of purses, gone. Jane says the promoter, Hi-Fi Marketing, told her it filed an insurance claim and she would be reimbursed. "I was assured through emails and verbally that I would be paid between 30 to 45 days. That's usually what an insurance claim took."

And last May the head of Hi-Fi Marketing, Brian Gefter, even personally promised to pay Jane her money. But months later he's never paid off on his pledge and Jane says she's left holding the bag, "It's not a small amount. It becomes frustrating."

We came a knocking to the home of Hi-Fi Marketing earlier this month. But Brian Gefter wasn't there. He also never returned our numerous phone calls.

We did find his name later on the side of a billboard announcing the opening of his new nightclub, Provocateur, slated to open this fall in the trendy meat packing district.

But earlier this week we finally tracked down Gefter outside his office.

Tappy Phillips: "Brian?" Brian Gefter: "Yeah." Tappy: "How you doing? No, I need to talk to you about Jane August." Brian: "Okay, great." Tappy: "No, seriously. She gave you alot of expensive purses and they got stolen." Brian: "Good." Tappy: "Why don't you pay her? You owe her the money. C'mon Brian do the right thing. She can't afford to lose this money."

To date, Jane hasn't been paid. Last month she filed a lawsuit to attempt to get the money promised her. The lawsuit is still pending. August's request to Gefter is simple. "Pay your bills."

The attorney for Brian Gefter called Jane's lawsuit frivolous. And vowed to prove it in court.


Story by: Tappy Phillips

Produced by: Steve Livingstone

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Tappy Phillips