Kevin Costner found not guilty of cheating Stephen Baldwin in BP sale
A jury has found Kevin Costner not guilty Thursday of bilking actor Stephen Baldwin and his friend Spyridon Contogouris out of millions of dollars over the use of oil-cleaning machines during the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Baldwin and Contogouris were seeking $17 million in damages but now only have a stack of unpaid legal fees.
"My name means more to me than money and that's why he didn't settle," Costner told the AP after the verdict. Contogouris and Baldwin sold off shares of Ocean Therapy Solutions, the company making oil-separating centrifuges, for $1.4 million and $500,000 respectively, the AP reports, but Baldwin said he would have kept his shares if they had known BP was buying 32 of the machines, and had made an $18 million deposit on a $52 million order.
Attorneys for Costner and his business partner Patrick Smith contended the pair did know about the order, but Baldwin's people said BP had only signed a nonbinding letter of intent. Costner fired back that Baldwin had done nothing to broker the BP deal, so he should just deal with missing the boat on the big payoff.
"We're disappointed. We thought we proved rather convincingly that these two guys, Mr. Costner and Mr. Smith, defrauded us," Baldwin lawyer James Cobb said. "The jury saw it a different way but we respect the jury's verdict." Cobb added "the bigger celebrity won," which is pretty sour grapes, considering Baldwin only had one good role in 1995's The Usual Suspects before fading from the A list entirely.
[Photo: Getty Images]