The head of casino giant Harrah’s Entertainment said Monday that rock star Rod Stewart should return $2 million he was paid for a December 2000 Las Vegas concert he never performed.
“Ultimately, we’re just here to get our money back,” Gary Loveman, the chairman and chief executive of the world’s biggest casino company said before taking the witness stand in federal court in Las Vegas.
“We don’t wish Mr. Stewart any ill will,” Loveman said. “He was paid a lot of money to do something he did not do. It’s merely a contractual matter.”
Stewart, 60, could testify Wednesday, said his lawyer, Louis “Skip” Miller of Los Angeles.
Stewart said last week outside court that he was defending his honor in the breach of contract suit filed in 2001 by the Rio hotel-casino in Las Vegas, a Harrah’s property.
The company is seeking the return of an advance paid to the British rocker for the show, plus interest and attorneys’ fees.
Stewart’s lawyer has said the show was canceled because the singer underwent thyroid cancer surgery in May 2000, and that Stewart’s offers to play a makeup date have been spurned.
Loveman testified that no makeup date could provide the revenues the casino expected to generate from the December 2000 show. The New Year’s Eve holiday to mark the millennium figured to be a huge draw in Las Vegas with hotels and performers commanding premium prices, he said. Ultimately the event was a disappointment as travel fears kept crowds down.
Loveman also described Stewart as balking at the last minute from taking the stage for a New Year’s Eve 1999 show, unless the casino booked him for the three-day New Year’s Eve 2000 weekend and paid him $2 million in advance.
The Harrah’s executive said the resulting amended contract was “quite clear,” stating “in plain English” that “in the event Mr. Stewart didn’t perform, he would simply return the money.”