Walter Becker's Estate Calls Donald Fagen Lawsuit 'Misleading'

The estate of Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker has responded to a lawsuit filed by his former musical partner Donald Fagen, calling it “misleading,” and alleging that it is “riddled with half-truths and omissions.”

Fagen said he filed the suit after Becker’s widow sent him a letter days after her husband’s death in September, warning of her intent to assume 50 percent ownership of the band. He also alleged that the Becker family has failed to relinquish control of the band’s official website. A 1972 agreement between all original band members stipulates that remaining members can purchase all shares of any member who quits or dies, according to Fagen, the only remaining original band member.

Fagen has already continued touring under the Steely Dan name.

“We believe the agreement to which Mr. Fagen refers in his suit — drafted 45 years ago — was not in effect at the time of Walter’s death,” an estate representative told Rolling Stone. “Mr. Fagen’s lawsuit, riddled with half-truths and omissions, misleadingly fails to state that the day after Walter died, Mr. Fagen had his lawyer send a demand letter to Walter’s estate, thus beginning a legal campaign against Walter’s family immediately after his death.”

You can read the entire statement below.

“We were disappointed to learn that Donald Fagen commenced a lawsuit against (the estate of) Walter Becker, his partner of 50 years, on the eve of Thanksgiving. We believe the agreement to which Mr. Fagen refers in his suit — drafted 45 years ago— was not in effect at the time of Walter’s death.

“Mr. Fagen’s lawsuit, riddled with half-truths and omissions, misleadingly fails to state that the day after Walter died, Mr. Fagen had his lawyer send a demand letter to Walter’s estate, thus beginning a legal campaign against Walter’s family immediately after his death. The misrepresentation that his widow, Ms. Cioffi initiated any litigious action is simply untrue. In our view, Mr. Fagen is unfairly trying to deprive Walter’s family of the fruits of their joint labors.

“Since Walter’s passing, we have endeavored to achieve a compromise with Mr. Fagen. We were close to a resolution with his longtime counsel who he suddenly fired. We then negotiated in good faith with replacement counsel who Mr. Fagen also fired. Mr. Fagen’s third and current lawyer did not even attempt to contact us prior to filing a lawsuit.

“While we regret Mr. Fagen’s latest actions, we will vigorously defend against his unwarranted and frivolous case.”

The Becker Estate also claims that it nearly reached a compromise with Fagen’s legal team on two occasions, only to have Fagen fire his attorneys. The recent lawsuit was filed by a new attorney on Nov. 21.

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