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Amulet Winery Investors Sue Tuck and Boo Beckstoffer Alleging Breach of Fiduciary Duty

by Kerana Todorov
March 29, 2021
Entrance to Amulet Estate LLC east of St. Helena. The winery was known as Tuck Beckstoffer Wines. The winery has filed a lawsuit against its founder and his wife for breach of fiduciary duty. Photo by Kerana Todorov
 

 

The founder of a Napa Valley winery and his wife allegedly used the company as their “personal piggybank” for years to the tune of more than $2 million, according to a civil complaint.

The Toronto-based majority investors/partners of Amulet Estate LLC alleged in their complaint that Andrew “Tuck” Beckstoffer and Bridget “Boo” Beckstoffer  used the winery’s money to fuel their “extravagant” lifestyle, according to the lawsuit filed March 22 in Napa County Superior Court. 

The Investors named in the lawsuit include Toronto-based W. Geoffrey Beattie, CEO of Generation, and Matthew Cribbins, president of Generation Capital, according to court filings. 

The Beckstoffers allegedly spent the money on family trips, the installation of a gate at their St. Helena home, trips on private jets, luxury cars, a family membership at Meadowood Napa Valley, personal state and federal taxes and other personal expenses, according to the complaint which lists the plaintiff as Amulet Estate. 

They did so as the winery continued to lose money, according to court filings. The lawsuit alleged Tuck Beckstoffer “repeatedly altered invoices” for personal expenses in order to “falsely re-characterize” them as business expenses, according to the complaint.

“Meanwhile, the Winery lost more than $4.5 million, never once attaining solvency due, in no small part, to the Beckstoffer family’s misappropriations,” according to the lawsuit. 

A previous lawsuit with similar allegations against Tuck Beckstoffer filed in the fall 2020 is being withdrawn, according to court records. Beckstoffer denied any impropriety, according to court records.

Amulet was known as “Tuck Beckstoffer Wines” until late 2020. Beckstoffer, who founded Tuck Beckstoffer Wines LLC in 2007, was removed in October as chief executive officer of the winery, according to court records. Beckstoffer, a son of grapegrower Andy Beckstoffer, still owns 30 percent of Amulet, according to the lawsuit. 

In January 2017, Tuck Beckstoffer signed an operating agreement with the investors through NapVal LP, an entity currently managed by Beattie and Cribbins, according to court filings. NapVal acquired a 70-percent interest in the winery, according to the complaint. 

Beckstoffer who has a 30-percent interest in the business, became the winery’s CEO with a “guaranteed payment” of $450,000 a year, according to the complaint.

In January 2017, Beckstoffer “had the winery convert Ms. Beckstoffer from a paid ‘consultant’ to an employee” with an annual salary of $160,532, according to the court filing. 

Beattie’s investment in Tuck Beckstoffer’s project started In 2015, when Beattie first agreed to invest in Beckstoffer’s efforts to find an estate vineyard and a permanent home for his winery, according to the court filing. 

In February 2016, press accounts announced that Tuck and Bridget “Boo” Beckstoffer had acquired Dancing Hares Vineyard and Winery on North Fork Crystal Springs Road east of St. Helena. The property includes a 20-acre estate vineyard, according to the announcements. The sales price was not disclosed.

Beattie, through the entity PGF Family Corp.,  loaned Tuck Beckstoffer Wines nearly $12.3 million to purchase Dancing Hares and operate an estate winery there, according to the complaint. 

That year, PGF invested another $7 million to acquire a ranch on Soda Canyon Road., according to the complaint. That property was sold last summer, according to court filings.

However,  the Beckstoffers allegedly “misappropriated” $715,715 off these loans to pay back debts and personal expenses, according to the complaint.

The amount of money in question may change, according to the filing.

“Amulet expects that discovery will reveal additional loan proceeds that the Beckstoffers misappropriated to their personal benefit,” according to the complaint.

The complaint is for breach of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, unjust enrichment and other allegations.

The dispute has also come before a mediation board at  JAMS Santa Rosa Resolution Center in Santa Rosa, according to court filings.


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