Memphis, TN (October 27, 2016)—Massachusetts-based Hanover American Insurance Co. has filed a federal lawsuit against the owner and tenants of Kiva Recording Studio in Memphis, accusing them of insurance fraud and demanding that they pay back more than $2.8 million originally awarded after the studio burned down in an arson fire last November.
Hanover is requesting that Tattooed Millionaire owner Christopher C. Brown be forced to return $2.3 million, and that $500,000 be paid back by two individuals, Daniel R. Mott and John Falls, who were leasing studios in the facility.
The site of an early morning blaze on November 5, 2015, the two-story building owned by Tattooed Millionaire Entertainment LLC. had a history with local authorities. Police had come to the studio 15 times already that year, responding to reports of intruders, theft of a tour bus, alarms going off and graffitied death threats on the side of the building.
When authorities finally got inside the gasoline-soaked building after the fire, they discovered that various musical items had been stolen—guitars, amplifiers and gold record awards—and areas had been vandalized with spray paint. Brown claimed that local street gangs had stolen most of the equipment.
According to the lawsuit, while Brown provided invoices, receipts and documentation for $3.7 million worth of gear purchased between 2013 and 2014, the insurer’s own independent investigation found that the three liquidators that were claimed to have sold the equipment had no records of the purchases and said the documentation provided had been falsified. As a result, Hanover claims it was led to provide coverage for $10.5 million worth of recording gear that it now believes doesn’t exist.
Hanover's filing states, “The three purported transactions never occurred; the claim documentation submitted by defendants to support a collective $10.5 million business personal property claim was fabricated and fraudulent; and the defendants knew the recording equipment was never purchased and thus was never at the insured premises to be stolen.”
While the studio was purchased by Tattooed Millionaire in 2014, the studio has been a part of the Memphis music scene since the 1960s, operating under various different names including House of Blues, Kiva and Sounds of Memphis. Over the years, it has recording numerous name artists, including Solomon Burke, The Bar-Kays, Martha Reeves, Gloria Gaynor and Rufus Thomas, among others.