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Dirty Work

Steely Dan's Fagen sues Walter Becker's estate


Steely Dan's name and future is at stake in a new legal battle between frontman Donald Fagen and the estate of his late, longtime partner, Walter Becker.

Fagen has filed a lawsuit to uphold a 1972 "Buy/Sell Agreement" that he signed with Becker, a deal that allows the surviving partner to buy the deceased's shares in the Steely Dan enterprise.

Fagen initiated the action in response to a letter he received four days after Becker died of esophageal cancer on September 3 at the age of 67. The attorney for Becker's estate informed Fagen that widow Delia Becker was disputing the 45-year-old agreement.

"We wanted to put you on notice," says the letter, "that the Buy/Sell Agreement dated as of October 31, 1972 is of no force or effect."

Becker's wife is now demanding a 50 percent stake in the group and an appointment as a director or officer.

Fagen's suit claims "Becker's shares must be sold to Steely Dan … so that Steely Dan and Fagen can go on as contemplated and provided by the Buy/Sell Agreement."

In addition to sustaining control of Steely Dan, Fagen is asking for unspecified damages for the "repudiation and breach" of the original agreement.

Fagen, 69, is also suing the band's management firm, claiming that it has withheld financial information, including royalty statements and tour receipts. The firm, he claims, has also been "engaging in other secretive behaviors."

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