A world-renowned makeup artist known for his work with Rihanna, Katy Perry, Madonna, Britney Spears, major magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and designers such as Rick Owens, has filed a $10 million lawsuit that pits him against the “pure and unadulterated corporate power” of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
According to a strongly-worded complaint that Sammy Mourabit filed against the Paris-based conglomerate and its brand (“MUFE”) in a New York federal court last week, the two companies “wooed, wined, and dined [him], cajoling him into foregoing existing and future business opportunities with the whispered hush-hush guarantee of a long-term contract” to make him artistic director of the brand, only to renege on the promised deal.
According to Mr. Mourabit, who is “one of, if not the top makeup artists in the world today,” for “more than a year,” beginning in 2016, MUFE courted him as the replacement for the company’s founder Dany Sanz. As Mourabit alleges in his complaint, “Throughout the following months, [he] was in constant – almost daily – telephone and/or email contact with [MUFE executives] consulting as to MUFE’s future direction,” including ad campaigns and Grammys makeup for Jessie J.
All the while, individual executives from both MUFE and LVMH “regularly intimated that” Mourabit “would become MUFE’s Artistic Director.”
According to the complaint, an array of meetings took place between Mr. Mourabit and various individuals from both MUFE and LVMH, including one attended by MUFE’s CEO Nicolas Cordier and a number of other high ranking executives at MUFE’s headquarters in Paris. In each of these instances, Mourabit alleges that he was “asked to refrain from seeking or pursuing any professional engagements from any third party, and to be discreet about his present and future relationship with MUFE.”
Mourabit claims that “the years-long ‘mere formality’ of a contract was ultimately finalized on or about August 31, 2017.” However, just two months later, right as he was finalizing his plans to permanently relocate from New York to Paris for the job, Mourabit claims that he was told that LVMH “had unilaterally decided not to implement the Artistic Director contract,” which is ultimately what prompted him to file suit claiming Fraudulent Inducement to Contract / Promissory Estoppel.
As a result of his reliance on such “misrepresentations,” Mourabit alleges that he turned down a number of lucrative jobs, including “world-tours with Lady Gaga and Katy Perry” and the artistic director role for Rihanna’s brand Fenty Beauty, which, as Mourabit notes, “is ironically also owned by LVMH.” By “intending to induce reliance upon its promises and guarantees, that they knew to be false, in order to persuade the uniquely qualified Mr. Mourabit to be available for MUFE’s and LVMH’s needs,” the two companies “displayed a truly shocking lack of respect and neglect for a long cultivated potential employee” and caused Mourabit damages of at least $10 million.
While LVMH did not respond to a request for comment, Mr. Mourabit told TFL, “To say that LVMH acted without an iota of respect for me after more than a year of negotiations and working together is an extreme understatement. I had been instructed to give up all my clients so that when I began work on January 1, 2018, I would be entirely associated with Make Up Forever and LVMH. This position of Artistic Director was the culmination of 30 years of working with the best in the business and a dream come true.”
* The case is Sammy Mourabit v. LVMH Moët Hennessy Vuitton SE, Make Up Forever, S.A., and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc., 1:18-cv-03126 (SDNY).