Sean “Diddy” Combs and Diageo have “resolved all disputes,” both parties announced on Tuesday morning, apparently ending long and complicated legal battle wherein Combs alleged the liquor giant had not supported marketing agreements involving Ciroc vodka and DeLeón tequila. The parties announced the resolution in a brief statement severing their business ties.
“Sean Combs and Diageo have now agreed to resolve all disputes between them. Mr. Combs has withdrawn all of his allegations about Diageo and will voluntarily dismiss his lawsuits against Diageo with prejudice,” the statement, attributed to both parties, reads. “Diageo and Mr. Combs have no ongoing business relationship, either with respect to Cîroc vodka or DeLeón tequila, which Diageo now solely owns.”
More from Variety
Combs sued Diageo in May 2023 in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, alleging that the company, which also distributes Johnnie Walker and Captain Morgan, among other liquor brands, had neglected the spirits under their joint control. In his lawsuit, Combs alleged that Diageo had not given Ciroc and DeLeón the same kind of marketing and promotion it had given other properties in its portfolio. He also alleged Diageo had undermined the business by marketing Ciroc and DeLeón as “urban,” rather than something for the general market.
In a filing made the following month in the same jurisdiction, Diageo called for the suit to be dismissed and said it would no longer be working with Combs, who over the years has launched a clothing line and restaurants and has a stake in the Revolt TV cable network. But Diageo countered that Combs had failed to meet obligations to which he had previously agreed.
Separately, Combs is currently embroiled in several lawsuits stemming from sexual assault charges that have led to his temporary resignation as chairman of Revolt and the cancellation of his Hulu reality show.
Combs Wines and Spirits struck a marketing agreement with Diageo in 2007 for the marketing and promotion of Ciroc. In 2013, Diageo co-purchased DeLeon with Combs’ company.
“We are saddened that Mr. Combs has chosen to recast a business dispute as anything other than that and chosen to damage a productive and valued partnership,” Diageo said after filing suit last year. “Mr. Combs’ bad-faith actions have clearly breached his contracts and left us no choice but to move to dismiss his baseless complaint and end our business relationship. Mr. Combs has repeatedly undermined our partnerships and threatened to publicly defame Diageo if we did not meet his unreasonable financial demands,” Diageo said in a statement. “Diageo believes strongly in the CIRÔC and DeLeón brands and remains committed to their success, which is why we tried for years to salvage the broken relationship with Mr. Combs. We funded the purchase of DeLeón for the joint venture and proceeded to invest more than $100 million to grow the brand. Despite having made nearly a billion dollars over the course of our 15-year relationship, Mr. Combs contributed a total of $1,000 and refused to honor his commitments.”
The company added: “We have exhausted every reasonable remedy and see no other path forward.”
“Diageo attempting to end its deals with Mr. Combs is like firing a whistleblower who calls out racism. It’s a cynical and transparent attempt to distract from multiple allegations of discrimination,” said John C. Hueston, the attorney for Combs, in a statement. “Over the years, he has repeatedly raised concerns as senior executives uttered racially insensitive comments and made biased decisions based on that point of view. Diageo even acknowledged the problem by agreeing in his contract to treat DeLeon the same way it treated their other tequila brands. He brought the lawsuit to force them to live up to that contract, and instead they respond by trying to get rid of him. This lawsuit and Mr. Combs are not going away.”
Diageo owns more than 200 different liquor brands, including Don Julio tequila and Casamigos tequila, which it acquires from celebrity founder George Clooney and his partners in 2017.
Best of Variety