Spanish chef Ferran Adrià and his El Bulli business partner Juli Soler are to appear in court over allegations that they unethically bought out a former shareholder.
The heirs of Miquel Horta, a former investor and shareholder in the iconic restaurant on the Costa Brava, argue that the pair took advantage of their father's frail mental health to con him into selling his interest in the business for a fraction of what it was worth.
According to his sons, Jofre and Sergi, Horta gave El Bulli funds to update and expand its kitchen in 1994, in exchange for a 20% share in the business. They allege that in 2005, Adrià and Soler reportedly bought Horta out for €1.2m, which his sons now claim was way too little. The sons have produced an independent valuation of El Bulli valuing the former three-Michelin-starred restaurant at €45m.
According to Spanish radio station Cadena SER, a court date has been set for November, though reports suggest the matter could be settled out of court before then, reports The Guardian.
Adrià's creative genius is renowned and well documented. He became famous for his trailblazing innovations and the application of molecular gastronomy which have influenced a generation of chefs and changed the face of international cuisine. Despite its huge international success however, Adrià said El Bulli made losses of about €500,000 a year.
El Bulli closed last year and will reopen as the El Bulli Foundation in 2014. The foundation's goals have yet to be comprehensively defined but so far two objectives have been identified. The site will become the archive of the El Bulli restaurant and it will also be developed as a centre for creativity, with the objective of creating and then sharing ideas and findings through the internet.
By Kerstin Kühn
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