The Inertia Contributing Writer

A Mav’s bomb goes untouched but not unappreciated. Photo: Carlos Vargas

The Inertia

As you may recall from last winter, Cartel Management, the company that owns Titans of Mavericks, filed for bankruptcy, throwing into question the future of the iconic big wave contest.

At least according to Cartel, one valuable counterweight to the $2.7 million in debt it carries is a five-year event permit. Now, Griffin Guess, the owner of Cartel and Titans, is trying to cash in by auctioning off that permit to the highest bidder.

But before we get to that, there’s more news: Maverick’s pioneer Jeff Clark and his wife Cassandra Clark claim that Cartel owes them $2.1 million, according to bankruptcy documents filed last month. (Read on for how that could figure in.)

In a move that Dr. Evil would approve of, Guess wants to open bidding for the permit at…One. Million. Dollars. Next week, a bankruptcy judge in Los Angeles will decide if this sale is legally kosher. If Guess gets his way, the auction will take place on June 1, with bidding beginning at $1 million. Higher bids would only be accepted in increments of $100,000. Any bidder would have to pay a refundable $50,000 just to enter the bidding room. May not be a bad haul for a permit that originally cost $11,600.


In bankruptcy documents, Guess claims that he’s been “aggressively” marketing this permit to hundreds of entities, and has contacted “television network groups, media and internet companies, brand and product corporations, high net-worth individuals, and professional sports leagues and teams.” He says he’s amassed a list of 71 prospective buyers.

Complicating matters are a raft of lawsuits and judgments against Cartel and Titans, not to mention the $2.1 million claim from the Clarks. Cartel and Titans already hold a collective $2.7 million in debt and are facing an additional $400,000 breach of contract lawsuit brought by Red Bull Media House North America back in January.

In other words, Cartel would probably have to pay off its debtors before it could pocket any money from the sale of the permit.

“If Cartel is able to sell it we wish them all the success in the world,” said Stewart Schmella, an attorney for a sunless tanning company to whom Cartel owes more than $800,000. “The more money Cartel can generate to pay off all its creditors the better it is for us and everyone else.”

But buyer beware, says San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan. “Griffin has misrepresented to everyone that he has all the permits lined up and ready to go,” she says. In fact, several permits are required to run a surf event at Maverick’s, among them from the California Coastal Commission, the Coast Guard, and the Air Force, in addition to the harbor district permit, she says.


“We’re naturally wary of any promises Griffin Guess makes,” Schmella says.


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