WME, real estate developer settle arbitration case

Agency to pay undisclosed sum to end dispute with Comfort & Sons

WME will pay an undisclosed sum to developer George Comfort & Sons now that the arbitration over its lease of Beverly Hills office space has been settled.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but sources said the agency will pay between $20 million and $30 million.

In 2006, the William Morris Agency signed an agreement with Gotham-based George Comfort to lease space in a building then under construction on North Beverly Drive, with plans to move in by 2009.

But after WMA merged with Endeavor in mid-2009, the deal fell apart. Among the issues was WME’s claim that Comfort violated terms of the agreement by allowing another talent agency, Gersh, to share a parking garage intended for WME.

Comfort filed suit three years ago, and the sides later moved into arbitration. After an initial ruling against the tenpercentery, WME appealed in July. Thursday’s decision is the final word in the case, as the agency will not appeal the ruling.

“The matter has been resolved on a mutually satisfactory basis,” a WME spokesman told Variety.

MGM has occupied the space intended for WME since 2010. Biz observers speculate that the Lion has helped mitigate some of the costs WME could have faced in its settlement.

WME has consolidated the bulk of its staff into what had been Endeavor’s Wilshire Boulevard offices. The agency’s music department remains in one of the old WMA buildings down the street on El Camino Drive. WMA sold its three BevHills buildings in 2008 in preparation for its move, but it continued to lease office space in them.

A rep for George Comfort could not be reached for comment late Thursday.