What happened with Lou Pearlman? Lou Pearlman was a renowned record producer from America. He was behind most 1990s boy bands like Backstreet Boys but tainted his successful career when it was found that he was operating one of the biggest and most extensive Ponzi schemes in the history of the United States.
How did he make and break big boy bands with rogue deals? Louis Pearlman will be remembered for both bad and good, but mostly bad. Here is everything there is to know about his life, including his criminal offences.
Lou Pearlman's profile summary
- Full name: Louis Jay Pearlman
- Other names: Big Poppa, Incognito Johnson
- Date of birth: June 19, 1954
- Place of birth: Flushing, New York, U.S.
- Zodiac sign: Gemini
- Parents: Hy Pearlman and Reenie Pearlman
- Siblings: 0
- Cousin: Art Garfunkel
- Nationality: American
- Religion: Raised Jewish
- Schools attended: Queens College
- Occupation: Record producer, manager, author, entrepreneur, confidence artist, impresario
- Active: From 1993 to 2006
- Books: Bands, Brands and Billions: My Top 10 Rules for Making Any Business Go Platinum
- Famous for: His Ponzi scheme
- Criminal charge(s): conspiracy, money laundering, making false statements
- Criminal status: Deceased
- Died: August 19, 2016
- Age at the time of death: 62 years
- Resting place: New Montefiore Cemetery
Lou Pearlman's biography
Big Poppa was born and raised in New York at Mitchell Gardens Apartments across from Flushing Airport. He was the only child of his parents. His dad operated a dry cleaning business while the mother was a school lunchroom aide.
The rise and fall of Lou Pearlman
Big Poppa managed a band as a teenager but later focused on aviation. In the late 1970s, he launched a company based on his college project, with 1 helicopter. He gained more knowledge on blimps through the German businessman Theodor Wüllenkemper.
Lou established Airship Enterprises Ltd, which leased a blimp to Jordache prior to owning one. From the funds collected, Big Poppa constructed a blimp, which unfortunately crushed. This led to Pearlman earning $2.5 million in damages.
Big Poppa founded Airship International using the settlement cash. He took the firm public to raise $3 million for a blimp. He falsely claimed partnership with Wüllenkemper and leased the blimp to McDonald's.
In July 1991, Lou relocated Airship International to Orlando, Florida, signing MetLife and SeaWorld as clients. However, one of the clients left, and three aircraft crashed, causing the shares to drop from $6 each (he had paid commissions to record consistent increase in stock prices while the firm was recording little revenue) to 3 cents a share.
Lou Pearlman bands
After the achievements of New Kids on the Block, Incognito Johnson started Trans Continental Records to imitate their boy band business model. The record label signed Backstreet Boys from a $3 million talent search as the first band.
Lou Pearlman and Britney Spears
Other bands associated with Pearlman include NSYNC, O-Town, Lou Pearlman LFO, Take 5, Natural, US5. Some of the famous Lou Pearlman girl bands, which he co-managed with Justin Timberlake's mother. Britney Spears was a short-term member of Innosense.
Besides the record label, Lou owned a big entertainment complex in Orlando, which had the Trans Continental Studios and O-Town. Also, in 2002, Lou bought Options Talent Group, which became a photo mill scam.
In 2006, it was revealed that Lou was the master planner of the longest-running Ponzi scheme in American history. He had defrauded investors over $1 billion by enticing people and banks to invest in his fictional firms that existed only on paper before the boy bands succeeded, i.e., Trans Continental Airlines Inc., TransCon Records, and Continental International Inc. When the groups succeeded, he turned them and their fame into a platform to further expand his Ponzi Scheme.
He had used falsified Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, AIG, and Lloyd's of London documents to attract people to his Employee Investment Savings Account program.
What happened to Lou Pearlman?
On June 14, 2007, Lou was arrested in Indonesia after running away from officials. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 27, 2007, and was charged with 3 counts of bank fraud, 1 count of mail fraud and, 1 of wire fraud.
On May 21, 2008, during a bankruptcy proceeding, judge G. Kendall Sharp sentenced Lou to 25 years in prison (to be released on March 24, 2029) on charges of money laundering, conspiracy, and making false statements.
How did Lou Pearlman die?
In 2010, Incognito Johnson suffered a stroke in prison, which led to an infection of the interline of the heart valve diagnosis. He underwent surgery to replace the heart valve but died on August 19, 2016, before another procedure.
Lou Pearlman cause of death is recorded as cardiac arrest. Lou Pearlman funeral took place ten days later, on August 29, 2016. Where is Lou Pearlman now? He is resting in the family burial area in New Montefiore Cemetery.
Lou Pearlman's documentary
You can catch more details about Big Poppa in the documentary, The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story. This is a 1h 39m film directed by Aaron Kunkel and released on March 13, 2019. It explores the profession and legacy of Lou.
Lou Pearlman's net worth
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Incognito Johnson peak net worth was $300 million. Where was Lou Pearlman's house? Lou Pearlman's house was in Windermere, FL. The waterfront mansion was a 12,000-square-foot estate, including a separate guest house and offices. It was once offered at an auction for $3.75 million in 2008, but a bankruptcy-court trustee deemed the offer too low.
Lou Pearlman left over $300 million in debts. Although he did not complete his sentence, he paid for his crimes. His life is a lesson that you get served what you deserve; therefore, find honest ways of earning a living to enjoy the success that comes with it.
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