Stan Lee’s daughter announced on Wednesday that her father’s estate is cutting ties with Camsing International, the Hong Kong firm that bought his company two years ago and is now embroiled in a fraud probe in China.
J.C. Lee states that the revelations of Camsing’s “criminality” have caused her to sever ties with the company, which bought Lee’s POW! Entertainment in 2017. Lee, who died last November at the age of 95, co-created “Spider-Man,” “The Hulk,” “Iron Man” and many other Marvel superheroes.
“I cannot tolerate, nor would he have ever tolerated, his name, likeness and rights of publicity be associated with such criminality — criminality that apparently was ongoing at the time Stan allegedly entered into a deal with Camsing and POW!,” she said in a statement. “It is the Estate’s position that neither POW! nor Camsing have any rights to Stan Lee’s name, likeness or legacy.”
Camsing revealed last month that its founder and chairwoman, Ching Lo (also known as Vivian Lo), has been detained by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau. The news caused the company’s stock to crash on the Hong Kong exchange. Camsing has been accused of defrauding Noah Holdings, and of using faked contracts, according to Chinese media reports.
J.C. Lee’s attorney, Jonathan Freund, said that the estate is still investigating the validity of the POW! agreement, but at this point the estate is not filing a lawsuit.
“To the extent there is criminality involved at the time of entering any agreement or obtaining rights, the agreements would be deemed void under the law,” he said in an email.
In May 2018, Lee filed a $1 billion lawsuit against POW!, claiming he had been duped into signing away his name and likeness. At the time, Lee was allegedly under the sway of Keya Morgan, a memorabilia collector who has since been charged with elder abuse and theft.
The POW! lawsuit was dropped two months later, and POW! and Lee issued a joint statement putting their differences to rest.
“I am thrilled to put the lawsuit behind me, get back to business with my friends and colleagues at POW! and launch the next wave of amazing characters and stories!” he said at the time.
His daughter, however, now contends that the claims in the suit were legitimate.
“Stan Lee was adamant he never knowingly transferred to POW! any rights any rights in and to his name and likeness outside his employment services prior to his death,” she said. “The lawsuit accurately represented his feelings towards them. The recent criminal allegations against Camsing, and its jailed chairwoman Vivian Lo regarding their participation in a massive fraud makes it all the more likely that there was indeed merit to my father’s allegations.”
At the time of the lawsuit, POW! called the allegations “preposterous.”
Following the revelations of the investigation in China, POW! issued a statement on July 10 emphasizing that it is an independent subsidiary of Camsing with “a separate and autonomous U.S.-based management team.”
“The news today is disturbing to us but will in no way impede our single-minded dedication to our mission as the guardian of the legacy of our founder Stan Lee, the greatest storyteller of our time,” the company said.
POW! did not immediately respond to J.C. Lee’s latest statement.
Update, Aug. 12: POW! is out with a response:
“Since 2001, through a series of legally binding agreements POW! acquired the rights to Stan Lee’s name, likeness and identity. The relationship between POW! and Camsing International Holding Ltd. occurred many years later. Recent reports out of China concerning Camsing have no bearing whatsoever on POW!’s incontestable and exclusive ownership of Stan Lee’s name, likeness and identity. Ms. Lee and her lawyers are well aware that the claims recently asserted by them via a press release against POW! are unfounded and without merit.
“Stan purposefully created POW! 18 years ago as the place to safeguard his life’s work. Before he passed, Stan was adamant that he wanted POW! to continue to protect his identity, his body of work and his legacy after he was gone for generations to come. We promised Stan that POW! would respect and honor his wishes, and that’s exactly what we are doing and will continue to do.
“POW!’s commitment to honor and preserve Stan Lee’s legacy is rock solid and will not waver.