LITTLE ROCK (CN) – An Arkansas sports memorabilia dealer duped a collector into handing over a 1924 Babe Ruth home run bat with promises of $3 million that never came through, the collector claims in court.
George and Steve Demos and Demos Enterprises sued John Rogers, Angelica Rogers and their businesses, Sports Cards Plus and Rogers Photo Archive, on Jan. 30 in Pulaski County Court.
The Demos’ lawsuit is the latest claim against Rogers, a North Little Rock businessman who faces at least five other multimillion dollar fraud and contract cases involving high-end sports collectibles.
George Demos claims Rogers promised to pay him a $250,000 down payment for the Babe’s game bat plus $2,750,000 “in revenue and a 50 percent equity stake in the Minnesota Star Tribune Archive.”
“Rogers stated that the appraised value of the Minnesota Star Tribune Archive was $16 million. As additional collateral, Rogers also pledged a 25 percent equity stake in the Sydney Morning Herald Fairfax Archive with an appraised value of $65 million,” Demos says in the lawsuit.
Demos, of Wisconsin, says the deal was memorialized in an operating agreement and a promissory note payable over four years. He claims Rogers also promised him “additional revenue from sales from the Minnesota Star Tribune Archive.”
According to the Nov. 20, 2013 promissory note , six consecutive $25,000 payments became due in May 2014. The payments increased, annually with $100,000 monthly payments due the fourth and final year of the agreement.
Demos says in his complaint that when payments were not timely made “John Rogers orally promised to George Demos that he would not sell the bat until such time as Demos was paid.”
He says Rogers didn’t make good on that promise.
“Defendants 1-3 fraudulently induced Demos to relinquish possession of a valuable asset – the bat – under false pretenses. Upon information and belief, John Rogers created fictitious emails purporting to be from George Demos that authorized the sale of the bat. Defendants 1-3 fraudulently and without authority sold the bat to a third party for far less than its value, and converted that cash to other uses rather than making any payment on the debt owed to plaintiffs on the transaction,” the complaint states.
Demos claims the same overvalued collateral was pledged to multiple creditors.
He also claims that Rogers borrowed $375,000 from him in January 2013. He says Rogers offered three baseball cards as collateral for the loan: an Honus Wagner, a Willie Mays and a Mickey Mantle.
As additional collateral, Rogers promised Demos a 50 percent stake in the Charles Conlon glass plate negatives collection with an appraised value of $17 million, according to Demos’ complaint.
Demos says the loan remains outstanding and Rogers failed to protect his interest in the collateral. He also claims the collateral was overvalued and promised to multiple creditors.
The Demos seek punitive damages for fraud and breach of contract. They say they are out a total of $3,510,000.
They are represented by Tim Cullen of Little Rock and James M. Geraghty of Chicago.
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