Disgraced Sony Music Australia boss Denis Handlin has had his ‘Icon’ award revoked by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), it was reported today.
Once the most powerful man in the Australian music industry, Handlin left the company abruptly in June following a number of allegations regarding his conduct and the “toxic” culture he had presided over. He had been at Sony Music Australia for almost 40 years and was Sony Music’s longest-serving employee globally.
Four other employees left alongside him, including Handlin’s son Pat, who was VP of artists and repertoire (A&R).
A damning investigative report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which aired on Sunday, revealed the company’s top executives were informed of Handlin’s abusive behavior over two decades ago.
Handlin was awarded ARIA’s top honor in 2014.
On Friday the music industry body reportedly released a brief statement simply saying: “The Board of ARIA has today resolved to withdraw the ARIA award made to Denis Handlin in 2014.”
Handlin once served as ARIA’s vice chairman and continued to be a member of the Board until 5 June 2021, just weeks before he left Sony under a cloud of suspicion.
On Sunday, many of those suspicions were outlined in ABC’s documentary, “Facing the Music: The Sony Music Scandal,” which alleged Handlin was abusive, frequently went into “mad rages,” was a bully and was disrespectful to women. It also included a Mel Brooks-inspired parody video featuring Handlin dressed as Adolf Hitler, apparently filmed in Sony’s offices, rapping about the company’s sexist and alcohol-soaked culture. “Grab a chick, grab a beer,” he raps at one point.
A rep for Sony told Variety on Monday: “We take all allegations of bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behavior from our employees very seriously and investigate them vigorously. Only recently did claims surface and we are examining them expeditiously. We are not in a position to comment further on allegations concerning matters which occurred over 20 years ago particularly given that the persons involved at that time are no longer at the company. To the extent these matters have been raised, Sony Music has been reviewing them.”