Police have actually arrested rock icon Lou Reed’s manager for allegedly threatening to send Israeli hit men to go after a headhunter for the stars in a nasty squabble over an unpaid bill.
In a complaint filed two weeks ago with the Midtown North Detective Squad, as the Voice first reported, Adrian Smith, who specializes in providing personal staff to celebrities, claimed that Reed’s manager Tom Sarig told him, “Our guys in Israel are going to fly in and they will kill you.”
Smith filed the complaint shortly after the March 8 conversation. He claims Sarig also said, before hanging up the phone, “You want your fucking head in a bag? By the time they find you, they’ll be back in Israel having a drink. Keep harassing us for money, you’re a fucking dead man.”
Sarig was arrested last night on an aggravated harassment charge, and could face up to a year in jail.
Smith says he received a payment to settle the unpaid bill after he filed the police report, but he pursued the complaint anyway.
In addition to Reed, Sarig has managed CAKE, Rickie Lee Jones, Bryan Ferry, and a range of other acts, according to his LinkedIn posting. Prior to that, he was senior vice president for talent at MCA Records.
Reed, of course, founded the Velvet Underground and went on to a hugely successful solo career and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Away from the stage, however, Reed is known among rock journalists as a tough interview. (Smith claims that Reed’s previous assistant quit because Reed was so difficult to work for. That assistant had worked for Dennis Hopper, who was himself a bit of a handful.)
Smith built a niche finding assistants for the family of financier George Soros, newspaper mogul Mort Zuckerman, actor Robert DeNiro, singer Mariah Carey, music executive Tommy Mottola and other bold-faced names.
Smith says that he procured an assistant for Reed who had previously worked for U2’s drummer, Larry Mullen. Beginning in early February, He had been trying to get the rock star’s handlers to pay him the customary fee of 20 percent of the annual $70,000 salary for finding the assistant. But he says his requests for payment were rebuffed.
Smith says he lowered his fee to 18 percent, but Reed’s people insisted on paying him 15 percent. Smith lowered his fee again to 16.5 percent, but Sarig still wouldn’t pay him, emails show.
In other words, for services for a multimillionaire rock star, the two men were squabbling over the difference between $12,600 and $10,500 — a difference of $2,100, according to Smith.
Based on emails supplied to the Voice by Smith, Sarig and Smith traded fairly aggressive communications. Writing February 17 to Greenberg, Smith wrote, “Don’t fuck with a Scotsman, because you will never win. Tell Tom that he’s a complete prick and I have no problem coming down there and telling it to him personally!!!”
On February 17, Sarig replied: “Don’t press your luck. I am going to file a police report for assault, and get a restraining order against you.”
Smith’s reply: “You created this mess, all you had to do was to be honorable … This, my friend is your fault. Be nice, be sweet and you’ll get honey. Be tough and you will find tougher out there.”
The dispute increased in intensity over a period of weeks until last week’s alleged threat from Sarig to Smith. “I went to Midtown North and made the report and gave them all the information and left it in their hands,” Smith says. “If someone threatens your life, you have to make a report, and the police need to make an immediate arrest.”
Shortly after he returned from the police station, Smith said he got a call from Reed’s accountant. An $11,500 payment had been authorized. The check came the following day. So, why did Smith still pursue the police report if he got paid?
“He threatened my life,” Smith says. “Why should I drop it? I would also be satisfied if I got an apology.”