A company says Jack Nicklaus continues to use his own name without their permission reneging on a $145 million deal that controlled his business ventures.
The company also claims it had to save the golf legend from himself in a deal with Saudi Golf — one Nicklaus recently said he turned down $100 million to join.
The claims were made in a new lawsuit filed in a New York court and obtained by Radar. Representatives of Nicklaus could not be reached in time for this report. The suit was filed by Nicklaus Companies, LLC against GBI Investors, Inc. and Nicklaus himself.
Nicklaus Companies said that in 2007 it reached a deal to buy control of various business assets of the legendary golfer. That included his name, nickname of “Golden Bear,” likeness, signature, endorsements and golf course design business, according to the suit.
The sale included $145 million in cash and other considerations, according to the lawsuit.
The deal also gave Nicklas a partial veto power over the business of the company, which he was obligated to use in good faith, the filing states.
However, Nicklaus Companies contended the golfer then engaged in a series of wrongful behaviors that were against the best interest of the company’s use to license and market his trademarks.
The lawsuit lists several alleged examples of the problems, including:
In September 2021, Nicklaus engaged in conversations with a Belgian event promoter for a payment to endorse and promote the Soudal Open, according to the filing. He agreed to let the promoter use his likeness to promote the tournament for a lesser cash payment, regardless of whether he attended the event. Nicklaus Companies said that was done without informing them of endorsements from Nicklaus.
Nicklaus Companies also alleged that in the spring of 2021, Nicklaus engaged in conversations with Golf Saudi, according to the filings. The meetings were to get him to back a new golf league that was a rival to the PGA.
The company argued that Nicklaus’ partnership with the Saudi program would have “risked his goodwill and reputation in the sport of golf” and therefore hurt his marketing value, the suit noted.
“Fortunately for Nicklaus Companies — and Mr. Nicklaus — the Company was eventually able to convince Mr. Nicklaus to stop exploring a deal for the endorsement of the Saudi-backed league,” the suit read. “The Company essentially saved Mr. Nicklaus from himself by extracting him from a controversial project that could have not only tarnished his legacy and reputation but severely damaged the Nicklaus Companies’ name, brands and business.”
The suit was filed days before Nicklaus made comments that he turned down a $100 million-plus offer to join Saudi Golf, according to media reports.
The suit was filed on several claims, including breach of contract and beach of fiduciary duty. It asked for an unspecified amount of money. The company also asked for a court order that prevents Nicklaus from using the rights without first gaining permission from the company.
“It will be impossible to accurately value the full negative impact of that misconduct on the company’s business,” according to the suit.