News, Culture & Society

Guy Sebastian, Titus Day trial: Extraordinary list of items

Guy Sebastian has been given a boat, international air fares and the use of two Toyota LandCruisers for he and his wife instead of cash payment as part of ‘contra’ deals with major companies.

But the singer denied he arranged a discount from the architect who designed his multimillion-dollar home at Maroubra in Sydney’s south-east due to his high profile.

The deals emerged as Sebastian gave evidence in the trial of his long-serving agent Titus Day at the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney on Wednesday.

Day is accused of embezzling about $900,000 from his client over seven years, which the celebrity manager has forcefully denied.

Day has pleaded not guilty to 50 charges of embezzlement as a clerk or servant, and 50 alternative counts of stealing. The charges relate to about $900,000 in allegedly missing royalties and performance fees. 

Guy Sebastian was given a boat, airfares and the use of Toyota LandCruisers for he and his wife instead of cash payment as part of ‘contra’ deals with companies. The deals emerged as Sebastian gave evidence in the embezzlement trial of his long-serving agent Titus Day

Singer Guy Sebastian’s performance fees – including almost $500,000 for supporting superstar Taylor Swift nearly a decade ago – have been revealed at his former manager’s embezzlement trial. Sebastian is pictured with his wife Jules

The court heard Day had prepared a list of ‘contra’ deals Sebastian made during their time together, outside monetary payment for his performances or endorsements.

‘Contra is basically an exchange for promoting somebody’s product,’ Sebastian said. ‘You might do a gig for somebody for an exchange of goods as opposed to actual money.’

Sebastian had such a long-standing arrangement with Toyota under which he performed concerts, appeared at charity events and promoted its association with National Tree Day.

He was not paid money but given the use of a LandCruiser which was regularly replaced. His wife Jules had a LandCruiser Prado under the same deal.

Sebastian was also given a Bluefin boat in a deal he arranged himself.

‘I contacted Bluefin personally and they had told me they were about to do a festival and instead of buying a boat why don’t you perform at the festival and we’ll give you a boat instead,’ he told the court. 

Guy Sebastian’s former manager Titus Day has pleaded not guilty to 50 charges of embezzlement as a clerk or servant. The charges relate to about $900,000 in royalties and fees allegedly not passed on to his former client and friend. Day is pictured outside court 

The biggest fee paid to Sebastian detailed in the trial on Wednesday was $494,360 for supporting Swift during the four-city Australian leg of her ‘The Red Tour’ in December 2013. Swift is pictured performing

Yamaha, for which he was an ambassador, gave him a motor to go on the Bluefin hull, ‘because I’d done some things for them and never asked for payment.’

Sebastian received a public address system, headphones, speakers and amplifier from audio company Bose, which also paid him $82,500.

‘If I’m going to be an ambassador for something I want to use the gear, try the gear, and know I actually like it,’ he said.

Sebastian received a camera from Canon and in another ambassadorship was given AirAsia flights as well as $75,000. He had a Dreamworld ambassadorship worth $96,250.

The ARIA award-winner did not agree with Day’s claim he had negotiated a reduction in fees from architect Joe Snell who designed his home and was a friend of his then manager.

‘It works for Mr Snell to have a high-profile client to work for and do a house,’ he said. ‘He’s an amazing architect as well.’

Day (left) and Sebastian (right) had worked together since 2007, four years after the singer won the first series of Australian Idol over Shannon Noll, another former Day client

Day (left) and Sebastian (right) had worked together since 2007, four years after the singer won the first series of Australian Idol over Shannon Noll, another former Day client

He also objected to Day’s claim he had received goods worth $10,000 from Sennheiser audio company. ‘I have no idea where he would have got that figure from.’

Sebastian said he might have received a pair of head phones but other electronic items were sent by Sennheiser to his then audio engineer Anatole Day, who is his former manager’s brother. 

Day has made a claim for commissions on contra payments Sebastian received but the chart-topper said the first he knew about that was after their business relationship broke down.   

‘It wasn’t uncommon for me to have contra relationships from the beginning of my career,’ he said. ‘I don’t believe I’ve ever paid commission on any kind of contra.’

Earlier, details emerged of Sebastian’s performance fees, including almost $500,000 for supporting superstar Taylor Swift nearly a decade ago.

Sebastian won the first series of Australian Idol in 2003 over Shannon Noll, another former Day client. He is pictured outside Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday afternoon

Sebastian won the first series of Australian Idol in 2003 over Shannon Noll, another former Day client. He is pictured outside Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday afternoon

Sebastian charged $54,341 to sing at a wedding in Jakarta in July 2017 but just  $10,000 for another wedding at Doltone House in Sydney in September that year.

McDonald’s paid the entertainer $66,000 to appear at a conference the same month, and Harvey Norman forked out $33,000 for him to perform in August 2017.

The biggest fee paid to Sebastian detailed in the trial on Wednesday was $494,360 for supporting Swift during the four-city Australian leg of her ‘The Red Tour’ in December 2013.

The hit-maker also received $49,114.62 for singing at Allianz Stadium in Sydney during the British and Irish Lions rugby tour the same year. 

The Crown claims Day received payments on behalf of his client between 2013 and 2020, but rather than forwarding the money to Sebastian, kept it for his own purposes.

Sebastian denied he arranged a discount from the architect who designed his multimillion-dollar home (above) at Maroubra in Sydney's south-east due to his high profile

Sebastian denied he arranged a discount from the architect who designed his multimillion-dollar home (above) at Maroubra in Sydney’s south-east due to his high profile

The amounts of money the 49-year-old is alleged to have embezzled range from $593 in royalties to $187,524 in performance fees. 

Day, a qualified lawyer, first managed Sebastian in 2007 while working for 22 Management, run by Sean Anderson.

Sebastian had about nine months left on a three-year contract when Day approached him in July 2009 to join his own new company 6 Degrees.

‘Titus said that he was starting a new company, a management company, and asked if I would go with him to join that company and I said yes,’ Sebastian told the court.

‘He would refer to me as his foundation client, a client that he needed to start a new company.’

After negotiations Sebastian agreed to pay Anderson a 15 per cent commission and Day 5 per cent until his old contract expired in April 2010.

Sebastian is currently on tour for his recent T.R.U.T.H. album and is appearing as a judge on Network Seven's latest series of The Voice. He is pictured outside court on Wednesday

Sebastian is currently on tour for his recent T.R.U.T.H. album and is appearing as a judge on Network Seven’s latest series of The Voice. He is pictured outside court on Wednesday

As part of the termination Sebastian agreed to perform for fee at Anderson’s 40th birthday party.

Sebastian did not sign a contract with 6 Degrees but understood a draft document was essentially the same as his previous deal with 22 Management. 

Day, who has also represented television presenters Sophie Monk and Grant Denyer, managed Sebastian until November 2017 when the singer terminated their arrangement. 

Crown prosecutor David Morters SC said: ‘The break-up was acrimonious, or hostile.’

The court heard Sebastian subsequently found ‘anomalies’ in financial records suggesting he was still owed payments by Day and in July 2018 the performer launched a civil claim against him in the Federal Court.

Day made a counter claim against Sebastian claiming he was owed money, which led to an examination of Day’s banking records allegedly revealing further anomalies.

Sebastian then went to police and Day was arrested at his eastern suburbs home in July 2020.  

Sebastian’s barrister Dominic Toomey SC gave a short opening statement on Wednesday in which said the jury could be forgiven for believing there must be some substance to so many charges.

However, the evidence would explain every allegation and it some cases the answers would be so clear as to suggest police had been ‘wilfully blind’ to the truth and ‘seduced perhaps by Mr Sebastian’s high profile’.

Mr Toomey told the jury they might wonder whether police and Sebastian had some ‘ulterior motive’ to pursue the charges in court.

‘In the evidence are the answers to these misconceived charges,’ he said.

Mr Toomey said Sebastian and Day had been engaged in Federal Court action for more than two years when his client was ‘unceremoniously removed from his home by police’.

Each man had claimed the other owed him money, which was ‘hardly surprising’ in cases where a business relationship had soured.

Day, who has also represented television presenters Sophie Monk and Grant Denyer, was entrusted to manage Sebastian's income while the pair worked together. Day is pictured outside the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney

Day, who has also represented television presenters Sophie Monk and Grant Denyer, was entrusted to manage Sebastian’s income while the pair worked together. Day is pictured outside the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney 

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