On Nov. 29, 2004, attorney Michael Tuchin of the Los Angeles Law Firm, Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern filed for an involuntary Ch. 7 against Sole Survivor Corp. of West Lake Village, Calif. Creditors named in the case include the Employment Development Department of California, the Franchise Tax Board of California, the City Clerk of Los Angeles, and the Tax Collector's office of Ventura County. If Sole Survivor rings a bell, that is because it has been closely linked with the brand name, Gramicci, both of which are owned by Don Love.
But the situation isn't as clear as it may seem at first glance: Despite the Ch. 7 filing, Don Love told SNEWSÂ® that the action would have "no affect" on Gramicci. We pointed out that in the court papers Gramicci Comfort Engineered was listed as a DBA for Sole Survivor. Love stated Gramicci was not owned by Sole Survivor and reiterated that the Ch. 7 would not have an affect on the company. He declined additional comment, citing legal issues that prevented him from doing so.
Seeking further clarification, we left repeated messages for Tuchin, who did not return calls. We also left repeated messages as well as several emails for Paul Buxbaum of the Calabasas, Calif.-based, Buxbaum Group -- who as of July in 2004 had become a significant investor in Gramicci, insiders told us. According to its website profile, the Buxbaum group -- www.buxbaumgroup.com -- has "built its reputation for over 30 years as one of the largest liquidators and appraisers in North America of retail and wholesale inventories."
We asked Love about Buxbaum, but he declined comment. When pressed about Gramicci Inc., Love told us that the corporation had been set up as a holding company but he again declined to confirm if Gramicci Inc. now owned and operated Gramicci. Love also declined comment about ownership of Gramicci, other than to say he was still very much involved.
Here is what we do know (anything else is only educated speculation since no one seems willing to talk):
- Sole Survivor has been hit with a Ch. 7 bankruptcy filing that was filed on Nov. 29. Web searches, the DBA filing included in the court documents, listings in manufacturer directories, apparel manufacturer directories, and other sources list Sole Survivor Corp. as the name of the business with Gramicci as the brand.
- Gramicci Inc., a California corporation, was formed on Nov. 22, 2004, listing Jeffrey Kapor as the agent and a corporate address of 601 S. Figueroa St., 2200, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Kapor works as a lawyer for the law firm Buchalter, Nemer, Fields, & Younger whose address is -- well, surprise, surprise -- the same as the corporate address now listed for Gramicci Inc. Kapor's biography lists his expertise as apparel industry manufacturers, importers, retailers, converters, textile mills, factors and banks.
- Outdoor Retailer Winter Market exhibitor registered attendee lists show the following names as registered to attend under the Gramicci name: Paul Buxbaum, David Ellis and Arnold Rubenstein -- all from the Buxbaum Group.
SNEWSÂ® View: First, for the record, we love Don Love -- how can you not love the "Loveman?" However, trying to figure out what is going on here has been like playing poker at a table with everyone but us able to see what cards are dealt. Gramicci will be at Winter Market, and Love tells us in a stronger and healthier position than last year. Who is now in an ownership position of that company, or controlling it, is anyone's guess. It is likely that Buxbaum Group owns a significant share of the action. Insiders have told us that Paul Buxbaum owns at least 40 percent of the company -- we can only assume that also means Gramicci Inc. at this point. It is most curious that Tuchin is declining comment, and we do very much wonder what such a high-powered lawyer is doing filing a Ch. 7 liquidation against Sole Survivor if it really doesn't own Gramicci. Even stranger is that he is filing it on behalf of the state, city and county with no other creditors listed. A number of bankruptcy law experts who reviewed this case told us such a filing is unusual and hard to collect. And that makes us wonder what else is at play here. Whoever is in control of Gramicci, they have some work to do. Despite apparently dealing with delivery issues in 2003 that plagued the company in 2002, Gramicci was back to missing a significant portion of retailers' delivery deadlines again in 2004. Again, insiders tell us that was due to sourcing challenges that resulted from the company switching overseas factories and making a change from garment-dyed programs to other clothing programs. Here again, Don tells us 2005 will be smooth sailing with the problems of 2004 behind him -- we hope so. Now, can anyone tell us who really owns Gramicci?