In a plot so flimsy it could only work on Broadway, bogus investor Mark C. Hotton has been charged with two counts of wire fraud, which could see him serving up to 40 years behind bars. The former stockbroker said he could turn up backing for the musical, which is based on the 1938 novel by Daphne du Maurier, but any financing he produced turned out to be purely fictional.
In the most ridiculous aspect of the scheme, Mr. Hotton volunteered a phantom investor by the name of Paul Abrams—but when Mr. Sprecher pushed for the would-be backer to cough up the funds, Mr. Abrams was said to have gone on safari, then, to have died of malaria.
“When we first heard the news, we thought: ‘malaria?!’” Mr. Sprecher told us over the phone yesterday. “It sounded odd at first, but we Googled it and found that thousands of people die from the disease every year.”
Mr. Hotton’s ham-fisted con saw him create numerous aliases, register false email addresses under his own name and use pictures of the same office taken from different angles to fabricate company websites. He certainly has a long way to go before catching up to Bernie Madoff in the sophisticated scammer’s league, but at least he’ll have some free time for the next 40 years or so to work on it.
Rebecca was set to debut last year, Mr. Sprecher told us. But the setbacks just kept on coming for the production team, who are now searching for the $4.5 million they thought Mr. Hotton had lined up, as well as the fees incurred during the delay. Mr. Sprecher remained “shell-shocked” by the events, and is “just trying not to feel sad about it.” How very theatrical.
But his passion for the show was evident as he excitedly explained: “It’s very difficult in today’s world to surprise an audience with a story, and Rebecca has an unbelievable quality of surprise. That’s what makes it stand out from every other Broadway musical: it is what we call in the theater ‘a full meal.’ It’s not breakfast, it’s not lunch, it’s not dinner—it’s a full dining experience, and that makes it really Broadway-worthy.”
Aside from chewing over his mammoth Rebecca meal, Mr. Sprecher has already been entertaining the notion of making some money from his painful experience, musing, “I can see myself authoring a book about it.” Maybe he can use the profits to finally put on the show.