With more pending investigations, including one by the FBI, and mixed information springing up across both leading publications and social networks, Broadway still waits to learn whether its most engaging piece of fiction this season was a story spun offstage.
Reports in The New York Times and the New York Post now state that private investigators in New York and London have discovered that four purported investors for the scuttled Broadway musical Rebecca, including the mysterious "Paul Abrams," never actually existed, and may have been the creation of Long Island stockbroker Mark C. Hotton, who had been hired by the show's lead producer, Ben Sprecher, to help raise funds for the show.
"Following an extensive search over the last week, I can now confirm that there is no evidence whatever that 'Paul Abrams,' or any of the other three investors brought to this production...ever existed," said Ronald G. Russo, the lawyer and spokesperson for Sprecher, in a published statement.
"Abrams", who had been described to Sprecher as a South African businessman, was set to invest $2 million, but then reportedly "died" of malaria during the summer. The identities of the other investors have never been revealed, and Sprecher has admitted that he had never personally met Abrams.
Last month Sprecher and co-producer Louise Forlenza said they had arranged new financing, and that rehearsals were set to begin on October 1. However, at the end of September, they announced that a newly lined-up investor, who was set to put in $2 million, had pulled out after receiving a malicious email -- the sender of which is still being investigated -- causing the production to be postponed.
Meanwhile, Hotton has yet to be charged with any crime. Moreover, according to the Times, his lawyer, Gerald L. Shargel, has called the results of Mr. Russo's investigation "absurd" and "self-serving."
"There is no benefit to my client unless and until there was an investment of actual dollars and there wasn't a dollar to be made by my client," Shargel told the newspaper. "My client met these people and tried to raise money in good faith and the bottom line is that he was completely duped. If they were fictitious, what was in it for Hotton?"