On Friday, jurors in Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor’s civil trial handed down a $2.9 million judgment in favor of the industrial rocker, awarding the musician on each of the claims outlined in a 2004 lawsuit he brought against his former manager and Nothing Records partner, according to a U.S. District Court spokesperson.
The decision doesn’t immediately account for interest owed on the amount. Once computed, the payout could potentially double. More importantly, the decision returns total control of his trademarks back to Reznor.
Reznor’s civil trial against John Malm opened in New York on May 16, with Reznor painting a traitorous portrait of his former handler and friend. Reznor filed the civil action against Malm last May, charging not only that his former associate mismanaged his finances, but also that he engaged in unlawful and immoral conduct for years, cheating Reznor out of millions of dollars that rightfully should’ve gone to him.
Reznor told jurors he trusted Malm, who abused that trust by tricking him into signing a contract that permitted his former manager to collect 20 percent of his gross earnings, rather than his net income, which is the typical method by which artist managers are compensated (see “Trent Reznor Bares Teeth In Testimony Against Ex-Manager” ). Additionally, according to the suit, Malm stole or mismanaged up to $10 million of the musician’s money.
“I felt I had an accountant I couldn’t trust,” Reznor told the court, according to The Associated Press.
Malm’s lawyer, Alan Hirth, countered that it was Reznor who owed Malm, saying his client toiled for years pro bono. He also told the court that Malm never kept Reznor’s business dealings secret. Reznor acknowledged that he largely ignored his finances, entrusting the handling of his business dealings to Malm — at the time, even signing papers and documents without reviewing them.
But then, in 2003, Reznor asked Malm how much money he had, and was provided with a financial statement that put his total assets at $3 million, with just over $400,000 in available cash. “It was not pleasant discovering you have a 10th as much as you’ve been told you have,” Reznor told the court, later explaining that he only started to fully comprehend his financial situation several years ago, after tackling his addiction to drugs and alcohol.
For an in-depth feature on Nine Inch Nails, check out “Nine Inch Nails: The Upward Spiral.”