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Pay up!

by Roy R. Morris


Rihanna at her grandmother’s funeral.

Veteran funeral home director, James Wilson, is suing superstar Robyn Rihanna Fenty over her alleged failure to settle a more than $300,000 bill incurred for her grandmother’s funeral last July.

Reliable sources said while the attorneys for James Wilson & Company Ltd did not meet their original deadline to have the papers served on Rihanna before she left the island yesterday, after a weekend of partying at Crop-Over activities, the intent was to have them served at her Roc Nation headquarters in the United States today or tomorrow.

According to the document, Rihanna, who maintains a home at No. 1 Sandy Lane, St. James as well as in Los Angeles, through her agents, hired Wilson to accept the body of her grandmother Clara Brathwaite after it was returned here via a New York funeral home, as well as to execute various funeral arrangements.

Wilson’s court claim states:

* On July 2, 2012 the Defendant acting by her agent Mr. Adrian Elcock, enquired of the Claimant acting by Mr. James Wilson whether the Claimant would be prepared to provide services for the burial of the deceased.

The covered stage supplied by DB Productions for the funeral.

The covered stage supplied by DB Productions for the funeral.

* On July 2, 2012 it was agreed partly in writing and partly orally between the Claimant and the Defendant that the Claimant would provide and/or make arrangements for the provision of all services, supplies, works and materials (the services) required for the said burial. The said agreement was made by the Claimant acting by its Managing Director Mr. Wilson and the Defendant acting by Mr. Elcock and the Defendant’s management company, Roc Nation acting through its Manager, Desiree Perez.

* It was an express term, or alternatively, an implied term of the agreement that the Defendant would pay to the Claimant a reasonable sum for the services provided and that the Claimant would be repaid the sums which it advanced or paid or was required to advance or pay to other providers or suppliers in respect of the services not actually performed by it, but which came under its supervision and/or was provided, performed or supplied by required providers or suppliers.

* Among the services which it was agreed the Claimant would provide and/or supervise or would arrange for the services to be provided or supplied and which were so provided and/or supplied and/or arranged and/or supervised were:

(i) arranging with the Emmanuel Baptist Church in preparation for the funeral service of the deceased;

(ii) arranging with Coral Ridge for the burial of the deceased;

(iii) arranging with the Funeral Director in New York for the repatriation of the deceased’s body;

(iv) receiving the deceased’s body, clearing Customs and transporting the body to the Claimant’s premises;

(v) preparing the deceased’s body for the funeral service and burial in Barbados;

(vi) arranging for Obituary Notices in the media;

(vii) arranging for the printing of leaflets for the funeral service;

(viii) arranging for security services;

(ix) providing transportation, including limousines for the deceased’s family;

(x) arranging for the retrofitting of the church and the gravesite. The Defendant was at all material times aware that this service was being rendered by DB Productions Inc. The retrofitting included the installation of portable air condition units, the erection of tents and carpeted flooring around the exterior of the church and the gravesite, the installation of multi-media large screens for extra viewing, the placement of generators to support the additional electricity supply and the supply of special additional seating.

(xi) arranging for supplying the flowers, making the wreaths and other floral arrangements and the outfitting of the church. The Defendant was at all material times aware that the flowers and the service in connection therewith were partly being provided by the Claimant and partly by other florists, including Muriel Bowen of Muriel’s Flowers.

James Wilson leads the casket.

James Wilson leads the casket.

Among the floral arrangements requested and provided were palm trees to improve the aesthetics around the church, sterling roses, purple hydrangea, purple philinthrops orchids, purple delphinamum orchids, the provision of 50 large floral arrangements and one hundred roses for the graveside;

(xii) arranging and supervising the deceased’s funeral from July 2, 2012 to July 10, 2012.”

According to the document, Wilson was asked via email by Elcock on July 2 to send an estimate to Perez, and he responded the following day stating it was too early to prepare a quotation. On July 8 a draft invoice was submitted, which did not include “all of the services rendered by the claimant and/or the other providers”.

However, by letter dated July 15, a tax invoice was sent to Rihanna’s company for BDS $301,793.31 (including $42,862.83 in VAT) covering all services, to which they responded with an email requesting a separation of charges, which was done by later dated July 18.

On July 22, Rihanna’s company, by email, labelled the payment requested as “outrageous” and on July 31 wired to Wilson a payment of $72,970 “and advised that this was the defendant’s final attempt to resolve the matter”.

31 Responses to Pay up!

  1. spidude August 8, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Not sure the statement that Rihanna maintains a home at No 1 Sandy Lane is correct.

  2. Kerry Adams August 9, 2013 at 6:21 am

    $300, 000 for a burial??? That is almost a quarter million bucks….. what the hell!!! so because Rihanna is a super star means they have to charge her double that????? My word !!! I have close friends in that business and a burial is no where close to that even clearing clearing the body with customs and all that… prob $100, 000 seems just about right!!! that’s why you should always know what you are spending your money on before services are rendered. .. total rip off… show me a break down by item every cent you paid and original receipts too.. and then add on what a burial normally cost, cause that don’t sound right… thumbs down on this one.

  3. geefin August 9, 2013 at 8:23 am

    $300,000 for a funeral? Sheesh, it’s too expensive to even die these days… or maybe they just saw the surname and added another 0 at the end of the total bill…

  4. phillo August 9, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Base on what I’ve read and I’m a bajan I know Barbados prices it sounds like that funeral does cost three hundred thousand a simple funeral without all the fanfare cost around ten thousand she wanted all the luxury she has to pay for it. PAY UP RHIANNA

  5. Deighton August 9, 2013 at 11:22 am

    When you go to a bar or liquor store you have the option of asking for a cheap bottle of wine of expensive champagne, however you have to consider at all times that there’s a significant price difference. If you order and drink the champagne, then you pay the champagne price. Only a fool would have a problem understanding that.

  6. Sanderson Rowe August 9, 2013 at 11:34 am

    $300,000 ? Robyn Fenty Vs Robin B. Astard.

  7. Fiona Waldron August 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I would not rush to judgement here. Would be interesting to see the break down in costs. The bill for the orchids, roses and palms would have been pretty hefty. Not to mention the cost of repatriating a body. And retrofitting a church to boot. Having said that hats off to Rihanna for having settled a rather sizeable chunk of the bill. It would have been helpful if the Funeral Home had provided the breakdown from the beginning and included quotations from the other service providers.

  8. Sanderson Rowe August 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Leaves one to wonder how much was the final bill for the late PM , David Thompson’s funeral,and especially if the taxpayers were footing that bill.

  9. JennyG August 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    A normal funeral costs between BDS $8,000 to 25,000. That is minus the orchids, the palm trees, the A/c, the carpet, the retrofitting, the generators, the limos, the 50 floral arrangements, and the security etc., etc., etc.,. But regardless of the extravagance, the bill should not come as a surprise, it should be discussed and agreed upon before hand.

  10. Nutzs Barley August 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    @Kerry Adams….A Quarter Million Is $250.000…….

  11. CarlosM August 10, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    What was the cost of Tiger Woods’ funeral at Sandy Lane? Let’s compare that!!!

  12. Peter Hue August 11, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Barbarians really need to be fair, people see one side of a story and assume but never take the time to find out the details. You call a company and ask for their services, they begin to organize what ever you want. Think of it , were these flowers in Barbados or were they imported in to suit the occasion. If they were imported were there charges from customs, were they vat free, were concessions granted. Roses in Barbados are extremely expensive and to place a order for all these plus orchids must have been extremely expensive. Have any of you who commented before seen the arrangements that were there? Seeing the prestige of the Home selected I believed the family wanted simply the best and they were given the best. DB productions did the church as well as the cemetery. What a massive production they produced, the sound system, the carpet, the platform. Also take into consideration the grave fees as we can see she did not go in the usual area of the cemetery but in the high end area. What about the limos! What’s the cost of the limos? Were they early, was the family satisfied? How much does the NCF pay for set up for crop over events? Let us be fair to the parties involved. A request was asked and from what it seems it was carried out in a professional manner.
    What about the time frame, its been a year since and hard economic times on every one, those involved probably still have outstanding invoices for assisting in this production.
    It just goes to show how business goes, people request services, receive them and then go they merry way.
    A year is too long.

  13. Paul Douglas August 11, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    When u go to Sandy Lane do you pay $2.00 for a coke, further more does the celebrities that visit there pay that $2.00 also? I do not believe that, the headache involved in planning for such people are every and require much expertise.

  14. Paul Douglas August 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Is this how business is done, then we complain when people ask for their cash up front

  15. Paul Douglas August 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    @Sanderson Rowe
    What does this have to do with PM Thompson funeral? Are you implying because it was PM and tax payers paying that the Funeral Home charged more money? I believe that the platform and those things were supplied by MTW and other entities in government, it’s a whole difference situation. Did government import roses too and set up Kensington? It’s a whole different situation. Try going to a rum shop and buying a ham cutter and sending a celebrity to Sandy Lane to buy the same ham cutter made from the same ham. $6.00 right? Did the service at the funeral home meet the family needs?

  16. Justin case August 13, 2013 at 10:18 am

    It is even stated the Defendant’s agent asked for a quotation on the 2nd, and in their own words it was too early. That’s fine but on the 8th on was sent (not including all of the services rendered by the claimant and/or other provider). I understand you cannot account for every eventuality but come on,business is business a quotation would have been provided from the “other provides”. So what was the difference between the 8th and the final one? That would be met with an “outrageous”? I have no doubt that those prices and quotes were inflated because of who she was. She can obviously afford it and probably spends that much on a vacation but it doesn’t mean she should blindly pay double and triple what another person would be charged.

  17. Kitty August 13, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Oh Dear,

    I won’t ever be able to afford a funeral from James Wilson. I will also point out to every member of my family and my friends that no Bajan can afford his company’s prices. Since I am a Bajan with a hell of a good job, lots of family and elderly parents, aunts, uncles and in-laws who has had to arrange 3 funerals in the last 18 months, and I try to arrange lovely funerals, luckily I now know which funeral home to avoid as my chequebook is obviously not that healthy and I hope my friends will avoid this company as well.

  18. Peeka August 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Don’t understand why Rihanna is paying for the funeral anyway, what happened to the other relatives. I can understand her contributing yes.

  19. Eric Phipps August 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Don’t know why, a professional funeral home couldn’t provide an initial estimate, when asked.

  20. Skalla August 13, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Stupse, funeral costs are too high altogether. $10,000 – 25,000 is the normal cost for a funeral? Wth!! Nothing normal bout that kind of expense to bury a loved one! Furthermore some of these funeral homes take a lot of advantage. My mother was in charge of burying a few elderly relatives and I heard her complain about the practices of some of these places. If you don’t be careful you find yourself paying $25.00 for a complementary box of tissues or some such crap. They come across as “Oh we will take care of everything” but they are taking care of themselves when you are in an emotional time and probably don’t fully have your “head on”. I would have to see an itemized list of the expenses at that funeral before I pass any judgement.

  21. Brian Denny August 14, 2013 at 10:13 am

    The key word here is “orally”. Rihanna asked for a quote and none was provided. Now you send me a bill for $300K? This funeral director is a nut. Unless he can provide evidence of an agreement then he’s simply wasting his time. I’m sure that $300K includes lawyer fees for suing!!!

  22. Bajan B August 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    All I have to say is that I hope Rhianna wins the case. I myself have had a bad experience with Downes & Wilson when my father passed away! It was with one of his so called employees that did this to me with my father’s family! Would advise people to run a mile and not use them.

  23. N Crawford August 17, 2013 at 7:20 am

    I had a poor experience with Downes and Wilson! I’m speaking from experience and if anyone is going to bury their families, find some other funeral home in Bim, surely they aren’t the only ones in Barbados!

    If they can do what they are doing to Rhianna, what will they do to normal everyday people! BEWARE!

  24. Tippy August 20, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    That’s business for you, I know James Wilson and I know him to be a person who goes the extra for people, it seems his company is getting quite a bashing from the public, that’s what helps to make businesses stronger, have anyone stopped and asked the question, did he arrange the details as he was given, everyone saying the prices are inflated, what’s the cost to bring in the required flowers’ set up the platform , sound system etc, if any person in business receives an invoice from a second party they would be stupid not to pass the cost to the customer, DB Productions are quite expensive and I believe their bill is a huge chunk out the cost, what about the limos and the other fanfare, did any of the critics or average person see the set up of the church. Who paid for that.
    Now to think of it, no one spoke or knows what cost the funeral home in the states charged, must have been way less because it seems that they did not get the demands like what Downes and Wilon got, anyway I await the verdict, hope when situations like these pop up that people see or know what they are dealing with, Rihanna pay your debts, next time u will be sure to ensure to have an estimate before proceeding, Mr Wilson and company, watch your self, but continue to strive and succeed in your profession.

  25. Weakened August 20, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    @Crawford, what is it they did to Rihanna, ask for her to settle her bill or charged her heavy, Every body gets different experiences when conducting business and when we get bad experiences we always speak about it, never the good, poor Downes and Wilson.

  26. N Craford August 22, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Like l said, it was one of his employees along with my father’s family that did it. I went to see Mr Wilson after he came back to the island, to sort out the situation and while on speaker phone the employee was warned that she was on speaker phone the only excuse she came out with was l would have to take it up with the named family!

    Can any of you explain that a casket that was chosen by myself and my father’s partner chose for $6500 wad then priced up to $100,000???? So l hate to say it no poor mr Wilson, hes ad much to be blamed if hes going to allow crooked staff to work for him, and to line his greedy pockets! We all know funerals are not cheap, but don’t rob the penny off the dead eyes. He had allowed staff to give his business a bad name as well as himself!

  27. N Craford August 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    @Sanderson Rowe: Well said.

  28. N Craford August 22, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    @ weakened. When it happens to you, don’t start making a fuss!

  29. N Craford August 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    @ tippy well he didn’t go that extra mile for me just covered for his member of staff. I could go on for hours but him and his company ain’t worth my time, him and his staff needs to be exposed big time!

  30. Tippy September 18, 2013 at 3:18 am

    So sorry to hear, I think you may have made a mistake with the costing, no one sells $ 100,000.00 caskets in Barbados. I think you meant $ 10,000.00. Well it was your choice to go elsewhere or have a thorough investigation. I hope you did not get that price after the burial. I sympathize with you. Sorry to hear.

  31. N Crawford January 30, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    @Tippy. As l live abroad and not in Barbados, my so-called family sorted everything out. If l was around l would of sorted things out, but God willing l dont have anyone else to bury in Barbados, so D&W will never have to see my face or money again, and as for the teefing family member, as soon as everything is sorted, thats it no more!!!!!!!!
    If l was around Belmont would have got the business!


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