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Club closure fuels battle of Beso

The closing of Eve, the opulent Crystals mall nightclub partly owned by “Desperate Housewives” actress Eva Longoria, has triggered a new round in the Las Vegas legal battle for control of its bankrupt parent company, Beso LLC.

Los Angeles investors Ronen Nachum, a Beso creditor, and Mali Nachum, a part-owner, asked U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Mike Nakagawa to place a trustee in charge of the company shortly after Eve’s closure last week.

On Monday, Nakagawa denied the request to move on the trustee quickly, but left open the possibility of hearing the request on a normal timetable, which could take several weeks.

“We want to get an independent party there to see if the closing of Eve made sense,” said Brian Shapiro, the Nachum’s attorney.

In a court filing, Beso attorney Lenard Schwartzer wrote that Eve would remain available for specialty bookings. The adjacent Beso restaurant has been generating positive cash flow, he wrote, although the company’s financial statements have shown losses this year.

Beso management and other owners besides Nachum, including Longoria, have maintained the support of Crystals, the pricey retail wing of MGM Resorts International’s CityCenter complex. The mall was owed $2.3 million in back rent when it filed for Chapter 11 protection in January out of $5.7 million in total debt, making it the largest creditor in the case. Since then, Beso has since racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars more in unpaid bills.

Crystals attorney Bart Larsen wrote in court papers that the mall wanted to give Beso a chance to submit a reorganization plan, expecting it would come “soon.” Schwartzer said the company is currently negotiating with a potential investor to put more money into the company to pull it out of bankruptcy.

Besides Crystals, several others, including contractors, the Nevada Department of Taxation and Longoria herself, were owed sums of at least six figures.

Eve was the only nightclub at Crystals, with cover charges of $30 for men and $20 for women not from Las Vegas, and a dress code that banned hats and baggy pants. With Longoria as the marquee owner, the club tried to position itself as yet another Las Vegas magnet for entertainment celebrities.

But infighting among the owners erupted last year, leading to a protective order that forbade Ronen Nachum from entering Beso, contacting employees or coming within 500 yards of part-owner Jonas Lowrence.

Even how much of the company the Nachums own is disputed, with financials submitted to the court putting them at just under one-third. Likewise, the manager with legal control of Beso was contested.

But bank account garnishments, unpaid rent to Crystals, a lien imposed by a contractor and ongoing losses drove the company into bankruptcy despite grossing $14.6 million last year.

The losses have continued this year, with Beso through May posting a $275,000 loss on $4.7 million in revenues, according to U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents. The numbers for the same period in 2010 were not shown.

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