Girls Gone Wild Files for Bankruptcy

Celebrity News Feb. 28, 2013 AT 4:45PM
Joe Francis Joe Francis Credit: Denise Truscello/WireImage.com

Girls Gone Wild -- the brand founded by Joe Francis in 1997 -- filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, Feb. 27, in California.

The filing was made in an effort to keep Steve Wynn's Las Vegas resort from securing the company's assets to satisfy a $10.3 million lawsuit. The legal dispute stems from a disputed $2 million gambling debt Francis incurred during a February 2007 trip to Wynn's resort, according to court documents.

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In 2012, the Wynn Las Vegas was awarded a $7.5 million judgment for defamation after Francis claimed the casino tycoon threatened to kill him. A jury later awarded Wynn an additional $20 million for punitive damages for slander.

The company further explained its bankruptcy filing in a statement to Us Weekly on Thursday, Feb. 28. "Yesterday several of the U.S. operating entities for Girls Gone Wild joined the ranks of companies like American Airlines and General Motors having sought reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy code. Girls Gone Wild remains strong as a company and strong financially."

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The statement continued, "The only reason Girls Gone Wild has elected to file for this reorganization is to re-structure its frivolous and burdensome legal affairs. This Chapter 11 filing will not affect any of Girls Gone Wild's domestic or international operations. Just like American Airlines and General Motors, it will be business as usual for Girls Gone Wild."

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Wynn's lawyers criticized Francis' extravagant lifestyle, according to The Wall Street Journal. "Francis claims to know nothing about his finances, despite living a luxurious lifestyle that includes living in a multi-million dollar home in Bel Air, regular use of a multi-million dollar estate in Mexico, while regularly being seen at expensive restaurants and clubs."

Francis, for his part, tells Us Weekly: "I was not involved in the bankruptcy filing and my personal finances are not affected at all."

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