Here's a sentence that might bring you up short:
Figures from the pop music world have paid tribute to Lou Pearlman, the founder of Backstreet Boys and Nsync, who has died in prison aged 62 while serving a 25-year sentence for a $300m (£229m) fraud.Yes, the death of Lou Pearlman, without whom we'd not have had Backstreet Boys on NSYNC, has got those who owe him everything trying to thank him while not upsetting those from whom he took everything.
The Nsync singer Lance Bass tweeted: “Word is that #LouPearlman has passed away. He might not have been a stand up businessman, but I wouldn’t be doing what I love today without his influence. RIP Lou.”"Not the best business guy" is how you'd describe someone who tries to sell hamburgers at a vegan festival. Pearlman was a disgraceful con merchant - and even Bass' "not a stand-up business man" doesn't really come close to how huge his deception was:
The US singer Aaron Carter also paid his respects on Twitter:
#LouPearlman my old manager died in prison... Rip Lou not the best business guy really at all but he did discover me karma is real
According to the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, at the time of Pearlman’s investigation he owed his investors $96 million, but had less than $15,000 in the bank. The investigation found that Pearlman’s records neglected to show the more than $38 million he had withdrawn for himself and his companies.You can see why Bass - one of the minority of people who shook Pearlman's hand and came away with the same number of fingers he started with - would be trying to look on the positive.
He ended up in such disgrace that when the Hollywood Review met with Pearlman in jail, you could hear Simon Cowell walking away backwards from a claim to kinship:
So yes, he is well aware of record-breaking pop juggernaut One Direction and boasts, "I know if I was out there, we'd give One Direction a run for their money." He reminisces about his "friendly rivalry" in the '90s with that band's puppeteer, Simon Cowell. (Responds a spokesperson for Cowell: "Simon hardly knows him. They were only ever introduced once, and there wasn't any kind of friendly rivalry.")And that's before you even get to the rumours of sexual abuse, most deeply investigated by Vanity Fair in 2007:
In the November issue of Vanity Fair, Pearlman, for the first time publicly, is described by several former singers, aspiring singers and their parents as a lecher, who used the same deceptive charms to cop cheap feels off teenage boys as he did to allegedly bilk 1,400 investors out of more than $300 million.Talking to The Hollywood Reporter from prison, Pearlman offered a watertight defence:
He adds that fellow inmates have come to know the real Pearlman through the years and never hassle him about the molestation charges: "They realize that none of that can be true."'The guys on B Wing don't think I'm a nonce, so how could I be?'
The only trouble with this is that while he's saying he's not a sexual abuser, he also denies having run a ponzi scheme too. In fact, the only thing faster than Simon Cowell trying to distance himself from Pearlman is Pearlman trying to distance himself from the likes of Bernie Madoff. Pearlman insists that he was different because he had a way of making money to repay those he fleeced.
Which is puzzling, as a lot of people invested in a fleet of airplanes which turned out to exist solely as photos in a glossy booklet.
Lou Pearlman was 62. He'd been due to stay inside until 2029.