If you're one of those people who vehemently dislikes the Steve Madden brand--and believe us, we know plenty of those people--you might want to stop reading this. Because you're quite possibly going to be propelled into a fit of rage.
Betsey Johnson is broke, and she owes a lot of money that she can't pay back. So Steve Madden--who already owns the license to sell handbags under Johnson's name--has taken over a $48.8 million loan to Johnson's firm. That means if she cannot pay him back by Aug. 20, 2012, Madden will own the Betsey Johnson brand.
This isn't Madden's first attempt to gain traction in the designer sector. The controversial shoemaker--oft the headliner in our Adventures in Copyright series--debuted his "upscale" collection Steven just a few years ago, and also produces shoes for Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's contemporary brand Elizabeth and James. But this would be his first big acquisition in the upper-end apparel market.
Is this a good thing for Johnson? Well, she already gave up a controlling stake in the company to a private equity firm in 2007, so this arrangement might not be that much different. However, if Johnson, who is 68, wants to keep the company in the family--her daughter Lulu is the creative director--she might want to attempt to pay that loan back--and fast.