" ... [Leon Black] has accused his former partner and Apollo Global Management Inc. co-founder Josh Harris of being behind a 'malicious' campaign to take him down... [and] alleges Harris worked with public relations specialist Steven Rubenstein to seed stories in the media about Black’s past business ties with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein." —Heather Perlberg, Bloomberg, January 19, 2022.
That had been in a new court filing on Tuesday.
This story of alleged high corporate intrigue and public relations media manipulation has been hovering over the Black legal drama.
That dates back to criminal accusations of an illegal financial relationship with Epstein. He had been cleared of those in the court of law. But in the court of public opinion Black couldn't shake the stink. At least then.
Things could have ended there, and after stepping down from his leadership positions at Apollo and on the board of the Museum of Modern Art, Black could have moved on to reputation restoration.
But that was not to be.
His former mistress Guzel Ganieva filed a lawsuit for alleged sexual assault. Later she amended that lawsuit with an allegation that Black tried to force her into sex trafficking for Epstein.
Using the high-powered legal representation of John Quinn, name partner of Quinn Emanuel, Black filed a countersuit to all that. In it he alleged what he essentially is asserting now: a smear campaign.
On Jan. 18, Black's legal team reinforced that with another filing. The lawyers are seeking phone records to provide evidence of a relationship among those three: Harris, Rubenstein, and Ganieva.
All in that loop deny the connection.
Evan Farber, an attorney for Rubenstein, said in a statement to the Financial Times that “Mr. Rubenstein and his firm have had absolutely no relationship with Ms. Ganieva, past, present, formal or informal.”
The story line goes like this: Harris, as indicated had previously been Black's partner at Apollo and co-founder of that financial empire, had his eye on the CEO position after Black had stepped down. But Marc Rowan had been awarded that plum instead. This then is allegedly a tale of retaliation.
If Black's accusation is taken seriously, this could send an arctic blast through the public relations industry. Also, there could be a flight of Rubenstein clients. That's the way it goes. They are aware of the phenomenon of guilt by association. They don't want shade thrown on their own communications campaigns. Expect both the establishment media and the tabloids to cover this development.
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