Billionaire investor Tom Barrack is circling the ultimate distressed asset in Hollywood: the movie studio co-founded by Harvey Weinstein.
Mr. Barrack's private investment firm, Colony Capital, is offering Weinstein Co. a financial lifeline as the studio reels from the widening scandals surrounding its co-founder, who knows the billionaire from a previous deal. In a brief statement Monday, Weinstein Co. said Colony might end up buying its assets.
The small studio, known for award-winners such as "The Artist" and TV shows such as "Project Runway," has been plunged into crisis by allegations of rape and sexual harassment against Mr. Weinstein going back to the 1990s. Mr. Weinstein, one of Hollywood's most powerful figures, has denied the rape allegations while acknowledging his behavior "caused a lot of pain."
Mr. Barrack, a close friend of President Donald Trump, made his fortune in real estate but has a history of plucking distressed assets from the entertainment industry. Colony Capital took over Michael Jackson's Neverland estate in 2008 for $23.5 million in debt, averting foreclosure, and saved photographer Annie Leibovitz from bankruptcy by buying out her $24 million of debt. And Colony was part of a group that acquired Harvey Weinstein's former company, Miramax, in 2010 from Walt Disney Co. for $660 million.
With Weinstein Co., Mr. Barrack would employ a strategy similar to the one he used with Miramax, milking a library of movies and shows for distribution deals and new programming projects.
"We will help return the company to its rightful iconic position in the independent film and television industry," Mr. Barrack said in a statement Monday. Colony agreed to immediately provide cash to the film studio. No other details of the talks were disclosed.