Walter Becker’s Estate Says Donald Fagen Initiated Steely Dan Lawsuit

A sad, shitty story continues. Last week, just a couple of months after the death of Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker, Donald Fagen filed a lawsuit against Becker’s estate. Fagen’s lawyers claimed that Becker’s widow had demanded 50% ownership of Steely Dan, which violated an agreement that both Becker and Fagen had signed in 1972. In that agreement, they said that, if a member of the group quit or died, the remaining members would buy back all the shares of that member’s stock of the band. Becker and Fagen were the last two remaining owners, which would then in turn make Fagen the last stockholder.

Becker’s family has now responded, with lawyers putting out a statement claiming that Fagen’s suit is “riddled with half-truths and omissions.” The Becker estate’s lawyers also claim that Fagen sent a demand letter to Becker’s estate on the same day that Becker died, which, if true, seems like some truly grisly shit. Here’s the Becker estate’s full statement, via Rolling Stone:

We were disappointed to learn that Donald Fagen commenced a lawsuit against (the estate of) Walter Becker, his partner of 50 years, on the eve of Thanksgiving. We believe the agreement to which Mr. Fagen refers in his suit — drafted 45 years ago — was not in effect at the time of Walter’s death.

Mr. Fagen’s lawsuit, riddled with half-truths and omissions, misleadingly fails to state that the day after Walter died, Mr. Fagen had his lawyer send a demand letter to Walter’s estate, thus beginning a legal campaign against Walter’s family immediately after his death. The misrepresentation that his widow, Ms. Cioffi initiated any litigious action is simply untrue. In our view, Mr. Fagen is unfairly trying to deprive Walter’s family of the fruits of their joint labors.

Since Walter’s passing, we have endeavored to achieve a compromise with Mr. Fagen. We were close to a resolution with his longtime counsel who he suddenly fired. We then negotiated in good faith with replacement counsel who Mr. Fagen also fired. Mr. Fagen’s third and current lawyer did not even attempt to contact us prior to filing a lawsuit.

While we regret Mr. Fagen’s latest actions, we will vigorously defend against his unwarranted and frivolous case.