Just when you thought Kevin Costner and his oil spill centrifuges were going to ride off into the sunset together, along comes Stephen Baldwin.
The actor, who is currently also producing a documentary about the recent Gulf oil spill, has filed a lawsuit in Louisiana claiming that Costner and his business partners duped him and another investor out of their fair share of the cash from Ocean Therapy Solutions. Readers of the site might remember that Costner purchases OST from the U.S. government back in 1995 for $24 million. The firm specializes in developing centrifugal oil-water separators; something the 55-year-old actor became interested in commercializing after witnessing the ’89 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Anyways, Costner and his machines were something of a surprise during the disaster; especially when BP placed an order for 32 of the centrifuges worth an estimated $52 million. Suddenly, the “Waterworld” actor was something of a hero.
In the lawsuit acquired by TMZ, Baldwin however paints an entirely different picture. It’s complicated, but it boiling it all down results in something like this:
Back in late April, Baldwin became aware of Ocean Therapy Solution and their centrifuge technology and decided he wanted in. Supposedly, Costner had already backed out of the company, fed up with attempting to market the machines and losing cash left and right. At least, this is what Baldwin claims he was told. Stephen was given 10% of the company, along with another investor named Spyridon Contogouris. Early on, the new team behind OST tried and failed to catch the ear of BP to use the devices. Disagreements over how to proceed eventually led to Baldwin and Contogouris wanting out. Unbeknown to them, Costner and his team were apparently working behind-the-scenes to secure contracts; all the while leaving the other minority investors in the dark.
Baldwin claims that this move was all in an effort to convince shareholders like him to sell; making it appear as if the company was failing. Furthermore, when the shares were finally sold, Stephen says the interest was paid off using income from the BP sale — another fraudulent move.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, but at the very least Baldwin appears to be owed $3.8 million instead of the $500K he was paid for his shares. Of course, this all depends on whether any of this is even true — but it certainly makes for some compelling reading; if only to see first-hand the wheeling and dealing that was feverishly happening behind the scenes to catch BP’s attention.
Costner and Co. have yet to comment on the lawsuit, which you can read in its entirety by visiting TMZ here.