An Improbable Journey: Music, Money, and the Law

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An insider’s view on blockbuster deal-making and part cultural tour de force, An Improbable Odyssey is a one-of-a-kind, deeply textured account of how some of the greatest artists of all time pushed to realize their greatest ambitions—with the help of Charles Lubar.

The year was 1971. Thirty-year-old Charles Lubar, a Washington, D.C.–born Harvard Law School graduate with a two-and-a-half-year deep dive in the IRS Office of the Chief Counsel recently behind him, was floundering in Nairobi, Kenya where he had come to seek the kind of high-stakes adventures one could never find at a major law firm in the U.S. But with his entrepreneurial hopes quashed in Nairobi by an environment that hardly wrapped its arms around outsiders, Indians being expelled from Kenya, and Idi Amin—the ruthless despot—on the brink of taking over in neighboring Uganda and soon to wreak havoc throughout the region, Lubar decided to pick up his stakes. With a sense of timing that would come to his aid again and again throughout his life, the young lawyer opted to make his next home in the UK. Little did he know that he would soon be swimming hard and fast in 1970s London during a cultural surge of film, television, music, and the stage.

“Hired off the street” by two American lawyers in London—the brassy entertainment lawyer Irwin Margulies and the corporate transactional lawyer Barry Sterling—Lubar could never have predicted that his work would soon put him front and center at some of the biggest moments with some of the biggest names in showbiz. From the James Bond franchise to Linda Lovelace and “Deep Throat”; from Jim Henson and The Muppets to Michael Jackson and the Beatles; from behind the Iron Curtain to the islands of the Netherlands Antilles, Lubar’s rare knowledge of the tax codes spanning Europe and the U.S. made him an indispensable figure to creatives trying to make their financial lives work on both sides of the Atlantic.

His list of clients goes on and on: Bill Graham, John Cleese, Santana, Diana Ross, Frank Oz, Chuck Traynor, Marilyn Chambers, Barbara Bach, Jane Seymour, Shakira, and Enrique Iglesias. Many turned to Lubar in real need of his assistance at the very prime (and sometimes, nadir) of their careers. Lubar’s bona fides would even land him a spot on the US-UK Fulbright Commission, as President of the Yale Club of London, and a Managing Partner in London of one of the major international law firms. An Improbable Journey shows a risk-taker with his finger living right on the cultural pulse of a moment.