In 1999, when Griffin Guess was 19 years old his parent divorced. Griffin's father Dr. Lewis Donald Guess was ordered to pay his mother Carol Guess $12,000 per month in alimony until he reached age 65 and half. In 2008, Dr. Guess stopped paying. Meanwhile, Griffin's mother discovered that Dr. Guess had hidden almost $2 million dollars of marital assets. Dr. Guess used the money as a down payment on a $4 million dollar home. Griffin's mother was not amused. She sued and won. Because Dr. Guess had hidden the community asset, Carol Guess was awarded all of it.

On April 9, 2009, Carol filed a motion for a determination that the money (allegedly $2,089,000.) used by her ex-husband to purchase a home in Coronado, was a missed asset not divided between husband and wife as stipulated by the divorce judgment. On June 18, 2009 the trial court conducted a hearing on Carol's motion and found she had shown, by clear and convincing evidence, that the source of the funds ($1,956,089.) used by her ex-husband to purchase the Coronado residence was an undivided community property asset her ex-husband had deliberately not disclosed. The court found that Dr. Guess' conduct was both egregious and fraudulent and awarded Carol 100% of the undisclosed community property asset.

After all the legal wrangling Dr. Guess stopped paying the bank. The bank took back the house and all the equity. Then the bank sold the house to the Bernhardsons. Again, Griffin's mother was not amused. She sued the family that bought the house. Carol Guess lost, appealed, then lost again.


Trust Fund Baby's First BANKRUPTcy

Griffin William Guess got his start in the entertainment industry with the help of his father, Dr. Lewis Donald Guess. Griffin's dad was a dentist who formed a financial services company named Xélan. The full company name was Xélan, the Economic Association of Health Professionals. Dr. Guess marketed financial products sold by Xélan at medical and dental conventions. For almost 30 years, Xélan sold a mixture of tax shelters, insurance products, and lifestyle philosophies.

Dr. Guess pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Griffin's company, "Machete Inc." He also commingled Xélan funds and Xélan employees with Griffin's company. This became problematic when Xélan was bankrupted after the IRS exposed it as a quasi tax avoidance Ponzi scheme.

In 2000, Dr. Guess helped his 20 year old son Griffin start a video-production business. Dr. Guess provided funding for equipment, employee salaries, and leased office space on 7th St. and Arizona Ave. in Santa Monica. However, by mid-2001, Dr. Guess lost confidence in his son Griffin and terminated his financial support for the enterprise.

On June 29, 2001, Griffin told his employees to take a two week leave starting on July 4th. 

On July 2, 2001, Xélan attorney David Jacquot offered to sell Machete to Liberty Media. Jocquot was later disbarred in California and other states. 

On July 5, 2001, Machete employees discovered that the locks had been changed. The business filed bankruptcy later that month.

Employees and vendors were owed money when Machete went bankrupt. In summery, court documents representing 32 creditors included the following concerns: commingling of funds/assets, failure to segregate funds/liabilities, and diversion of corporate funds/assets.  



On Friday, June 24, 2010, the United States Attorney’s Office announced that US District Court Judge Jeffrey T. Miller found former Xélan, Inc. president Dr. Lewis Donald Guess guilty on two felony counts of filing false income tax returns. According to court documents, Guess, a dentist, owned and controlled the Xelan Family of Companies, which specialized in financial planning and aggressive tax management for medical professionals. Guess also controlled the Xélan Foundation, which purported to be a public charity.

After a week-long trial, Judge Miller found that Guess filed false and fraudulent U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns for the calendar years 2001 and 2002 by falsely claiming that he donated $800,000 worth of stock to the Xélan Foundation, a charity that he controlled. According to the guilty verdicts, the transaction was “illusory” and Guess operated a “shell game” where he “reaped the profits.”

“On the honesty of individual tax payers the integrity of a voluntary tax system exclusively depends,” said Attorney for the United States Attorney Kevin J. Kelly.
“Dr. Guess, a medical professional who had full control of a non-profit charitable entity, undermined the integrity of our U.S. tax system by falsely claiming a $800,000 donation in stock to an entity that he also fully controlled,” said Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge for IRS-Criminal Investigation in the Los Angeles Field Office. “The guilty verdicts demonstrates to all honest taxpayers that they should not have to assume the burden for those individuals who intentionally file false tax returns and cheat the government.”

Judge Miller set a sentencing date for September 16, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. 


Attorney David Jacquot—Family Consigliere

Dr. Guess needed lawyers to help with Xélan. David Jacquot was his lead attorney. At its height Xélan was an international enterprise/scam with $500 million in assets. The IRS went after both Dr. Guess and David Jacquot for tax evasion. Before the Feds were done with Mr. Jacquot, he was charged with violating the Mann Act for sex trafficking, jailed and investigated for arson in 2010, lost his voice for unexplained reasons, and finally he confessed to years of raping a child he and his ex-wife adopted from an orphanage in Kazakhstan. 



William Alan Fox vs. Cartel Records, Inc. & Griffin Guess

In 2010, Cartel Records was sued for exploiting a 20 year old song-writer/musician by unfairly pressuring him to sign a “360 degree” contract. The lawsuit says that Griffin relentlessly campaigned to convince the Plaintiff that he did not need an attorney to review the contract. Griffin repeatedly pressured the Plaintiff and said that an attorney would “just cause problems,” and would “just look through it until they find something.” Griffin suggested that he didn't even have his attorney review his contracts, attempting to convince the Plaintiff to simply trust Griffin's “vides.” Playing on the fear, insecurity, and inexperience of the young college student, Griffin used high pressure tactics to create the impression that if the Plaintiff did not immediately sign the contract the record deal would fall apart.

“Under the contract, Cartel retains 100% of the publishing revenue from songs written and/or recorded. Contrary to Griffin's representation the Plaintiff receives no publishing revenue.”

Mavericks Invitational signs agreement with Cartel

June 18, 2014, San Mateo Daily Journal, by Samantha Weigel:

“Right now, the surfing industry has no money. We’re begging to pay for the event through our sponsors. But they can only give us what they can give us,” Brain Overfelt said. “There’s always been room for the right person to step up and I think for the first time … I think the proper steward for Mavericks Invitational has showed himself, unveiled himself.” 
Overfelt said he was introduced to Guess a few months ago through big wave rider, record holder and avid Invitational competitor Shawn Dollar from Santa Cruz.
Since then, the board and Cartel have hit the ground sprinting.
Guess said there are four pillars on which he wants to focus: the wave, the athletes, the community and the brand.
Deriving a payoff worthy of those who risk their lives on the perilous waves and providing for the athletes were primary reasons why Overfelt said he was drawn to Guess and Cartel.
“He just wants to fix it. So he’s got the passion for the athletes, to take care of them. He loves the rogue-ness and the difficulty the event has given other people in the past, he likes the challenge,” Overfelt said. “Get this thing under a premium platform where it belongs. These guys can die out there, they have died out there, they need to be protected, they need to get a reward.”
Right now, a lot of the athletes are paying their own way for hotels, flights and other expenses, and Guess said that’s going to change now that he’s on board.

July 8, 2014, San Jose Mercury News, by Jane Northrop:

The board of directors of Mavericks Invitational recently signed an agreement with Cartel Management, a boutique talent agency serving athletes, supermodels and musicians, which is in turn, expected to infuse money and manpower behind the surf contest.

Brian Overfelt, member of the Maverick’s board of directors and a Half Moon Bay surfer, is excited to see Cartel, and its owner Griffin Guess, working on expanding the prize purse and establishing bigger appearance fees for the athletes.

“There has always been a desire for the athletes to be better taken care of,” Overfelt said. “The sport is life and death. It is extremely important that the athletes are taken care of. We are also looking for insurance to take case of any injuries.”

Last year’s prize purse was $50,000 total. The winner got about $12,000, but spent much of it on travel expenses. The others got a $1,000 appearance fee.

Cartel is also expected to help set up a better cash flow and payment schedule with sponsors so Mavericks doesn’t run a deficit. Right now it has about a $50,000 deficit, Overfelt said.

Pacifica Mavericks surfer Colin Dwyer, who is ranked 29th in the world, said he is hopeful it’s going to work.

“This looks to me like the most legitimate group we have seen thus far,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing. I’m a pessimist. I look for the bad, but I’m finding a hard time finding bad things about this group. My friend (Santa Cruz surfer) Shawn Dollar is a very trustworthy individual. He’s a people person. He had nothing but good things to say about Griffin Guess. I take his word for that. It would be nice if Mavericks was in the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) tour.”

Colin’s dad, Steve Dwyer, a former Mavericks surfer from Pacifica, also expressed cautious optimism.

“We’ve all heard all these things before. I’m optimistic every time I hear it, but so far promises have not met reality, so I’ll believe it when I see it. With that said, Griffin Guess brings promotional credentials that no one person or organization — from the past attempts — can measure up to. So I am more optimistic than I’ve been in years past, but my optimism is guarded — waiting for results and it’s early in the process, so we’ll see.

Shawn Dollar Breaks His Neck in Four Places 

On Sept. 7, 2015, Shawn Dollar of Santa Cruz was seriously injured.



On Oct. 6, 2015, Cartel Managment filed a lawsuit against Rocky Raynor. The lawsuit alleged that Raynor violated a non-disparagement agreement by telling the Half Moon Bay Review that he had “lost faith that the new Mavericks organization would continue to serve the local charities.” The lawsuit also takes issue with a comment in the San Jose Mercury News that said Griffin Guess “pushed” Raynor off the four-member Titans of Mavericks board of directors.

Rocky previously worked as CEO of Mavericks Invitational, Inc., served as a Titans of Mavericks board member, and served as a volunteer for the Half Moon Bay Boys & Girls Club. The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court of California in San Mateo County.


Women to compete at Mavericks

On Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, Coastal Commissioner Mark Vargas of Los Angeles made a motion to amend the Coastal Development Permit for the Titans of Mavericks surf contest and add a condition to allow women to compete in the 2016-2017 event. Commissioner Martha McClure of Del Norte County seconded the motion.  The motion passed in a 7-4 vote.


  • Bochco - no
  • Cox - yes
  • Groom - no
  • Howell - yes
  • Lueveno - yes
  • McClure - yes
  • Shallenberger - no
  • Turnbull-Sanders - yes
  • Uranga - yes
  • Vargas - yes
  • Kinsey - no


Coastal Commissioner Mark Vargas made the following remarks and motion:  

“I'm still a little concerned about the fact that there is no clear plan for highlighting, involving, or encouraging the growth of women in this event or in this sport.  I would really love to see an amendment.  I understand that were too close to the event this year, but if this is going to be contemplated as an extension (permit extension) that could possibly have four more years of extension we should start contemplating a plan for encouragement and inclusion on women in this event. So that we (Coastal Commission) can review it, and have that information available for next year when this permit comes back up for renewal. I appreciate that it's a one time, one year permit but Mavericks has been going on for a long time and Mavericks will continue to go on.  I'm sure we'll be back here next year and it would be unfortunate if we don't start planning now for the inclusion of women and to see more women involved in this program, and not wait until a year from now.  
I'll float it out there.  I'd like to see if I can make an amending motion to add a specific condition that we ask the applicant to provide a plan for encouraging equal opportunity for women surfers in future events.”

Half Moon Bay Review, Nov. 11, 2015 - Clay Lambert, Editor 

Add women to Mavericks lineup and be on right side of history

The most important sports development on the coast in a long time may also involve pioneering women. By virtue of a motion made by California Coastal Commissioner Mark Vargas, of Los Angeles, the Mavericks surf contest organizers are encouraged to allow women to compete at one of the world’s premier big waves, on a stage that has been hogged by men since it was discovered decades ago.

This is a good idea that came from San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan, who suggested it before Thursday’s Coastal Commission vote. The commission gave Mavericks organizers a coastal development permit, clearing the way for this season’s event, with the proviso that they include women going forward.


Sabrina Brennan's Nov. 2015 presentation is 2:10:37 minutes into the video and the motion is 2:56:24 into the video.



On January 5, 2016, Half Moon Bay resident John Ullom reported impersonation and identity theft to San Mateo County sheriff deputy Kurt Zeugin. An investigation was conducted and a police report indicates that Cartel Management used a Capitola family with a child recovering from cancer as “legal human shields.”

Based on the police report it appears that Brian Waters, Chief Operating Officer of Cartel Management, used the families wireless network in an attempt to destroy evidence. For this reason the family became persons of interest in the investigation. A detective interviewed the husband at his place of employment. In a subsequent phone conversation the husband informed Detective Chaghouri that Griffin Guess apologized to him.


Body Glove Vs. Cartel, Mavericks Invitational, & GRIFFIN GUESS

On Oct. 25, 2016, the Superior Court of California, Los Angles County allowed Body Glove to proceed with a lawsuit against Cartel Management Inc, Mavericks Invitational Inc, and Griffin Guess for breech of contract, unfair business practices, and tortious interference. The lawsuit is expected to go to trial in the spring of 2017.

Here, the Court has already found that Plaintiff (Body Glove) adequately alleged a claim against Cartel and Guess for intentionally interfering with its contract with Mavericks Invitational, Inc. This interference has led to potential consumer and sponsor confusion over the sponsorship status of the surfing event and the source of its event-branded sportswear. Given that a sufficient claim for intentional interference with contract has been stated, the court “need go no further to conclude that Plaintiff (Body Glove) has adequately alleged a violation by [Cartel and Guess] of the UCL by alleging [Cartel and Guess] engaged in an 'unlawful' business practice...” 
The Demurrer is OVERRULED


On Oct. 31, 2016, the US District Court for the Central District of California Western Division issued a ruling in favor of Segler Holdings LLC in its claim against supermodel Marisa Miller and Cartel Management. Griffin Guess is the president of Cartel Managment and he's married to Marisa Miller. The unanimous jury decision found that Miller and Cartel had breached their contracts with Segler. Miller and Cartel were ordered to pay $1 million to Segler. Miller is to pay $300,000 while Cartel is to pay $700,000.

SE Texas Record - Noell Wolfgram Evans

Stew Schmella, a partner at Lanza Law Firm PC, which represented Segler in the case, told The Southeast Texas Record:  “We’re extremely happy with the jury’s unanimous decision to hold Ms. Miller and Cartel Management accountable for their failure to keep their promises. Their broken promises had serious financial consequences to our clients.”
The case centered around a 2015 agreement between Miller and Glissin, a subsidiary of Segler. Glissin makes tanning sprays, lotions and related products. Glissin argued that Miller had a contract to act as a spokeswoman for the company and it’s line of tanning products as well as develop her own signature line but she never fulfilled those duties.
"The jury’s $1 million verdict demonstrates the seriousness of those consequences," Schmella said. "Further, the jury verdict reinforces what we all know: written contracts still mean something, whether you are a start-up business trying to get an idea off the ground or a world-famous supermodel.”

After losing $1 million to Segler Holdings LLC it appears that Cartel's business is being assigned to Titans of Mavericks LLC without appropriate notice to the creditors and public agencies that permit and license the Mavericks surf event. 


California Coastal Commission Hearing—NOVEMBER 2, 2016

Half Moon Bay Review, Nov. 2, 2016 - Clay Lambert, Editor 

Does public benefit from longer Mavericks contract?

Ask yourselves: How does the public benefit from granting one organization four more years of exclusive rights to make money off of a California jewel?

Beach Grit, Nov. 3, 2016 - Rory Parker

Titans of Mavericks Female Blunder—Cartel drags feet, pays price... 

‘Well, you know, they need to pump more iron.’ That’s from Jeff Clark. ‘The girls aren’t good enough yet.’

Los Angeles Times, Nov 5, 2016 - Dan Weikel

Let women compete, Coastal Commission orders famous surf contest at Mavericks

“This is a great step forward for our sport, women’s athletics and women. You know, it’s about human rights,” said Bianca Valenti, a top female big-wave rider and co-founder of the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing.
Supporters who lobbied the commission to add women included representatives from the Surfrider Foundation, the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing, the Coastal Protection Network, the Brown Girl Surf organization and San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan.

BANKRUPTCY Warning Signs

The San Mateo County Harbor District has an “exclusive” event permit with Cartel Managment, Inc. for the Titans of Mavericks surf competition. Event permit number 2016-01, section 4.12 states: 

“This Permit is for Permittee’s exclusive use and is not assignable without the prior consent of the District, to be granted at its sole discretion.” 

On Nov. 10, 2016, the Harbor District emailed an invoice for $6,684.01 to “Titans of Mavericks LLC” for work performed for last seasons Mavericks event. On Dec. 19, 2016, the invoice was still unpaid. The event permit specifies 30 day terms.

On Dec. 13, 2016, Commissioner Brennan emailed the following questions to Harbor District legal counsel Steven Miller and general manager Steve McGrath:

  • Why is the District doing business with two companies for the Mavericks event when we only have an event permit and an insurance certificate with one company? The District invoiced “Titans of Mavericks LLC” however the District’s event permit is with Cartel Managment, Inc. The current certificate of insurance is in Cartel’s name and I’ve been told that it expires at the end of January. Does this pose a legal risk to the District?
  • It appears that Cartel/Titans are in the process of obtaining the required licenses/permits from public agencies in the Titans of Mavericks LLC name. Does this pose a legal risk to the District?  If so, how will this be resolved?  
  • What company or individual paid the Harbor District $11,600.00 on Nov. 2, 2016 via American Express?
  • What is being done to enforce the event permit?
  • Has a new event permit application been submitted by Titans of Mavericks LLC?  

On Dec. 19, 2017, Harbor District general manager Steve McGrath sent the following email to the board of Commissioners: 

Cartel Management, who operate the Mavericks surf contest, have established a new company (same ownership) called Titans of Mavericks. My understanding at this point is that Cartel is a wide ranging company, and ToM is (as it sounds) focused solely on the surf contest. We are working with Cartel/ToM to resolve administrative issues and staff focus is of course on assurance of protection, through insurance, for the District. We will be paying very close attention to all this should the contest be called in the near future.

Half Moon Bay Review:


January 18, 2017 Harbor District Meeting


Agenda Item 21 — Mavericks Event Permit Update: 2:55


Double Bankruptcy & Red Bull Lawsuit

  • January 27, 2017 - Red Bull Media House North America, Inc. Lawsuit
  • January 31, 2017 - Cartel Management, Inc. Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
  • January 31, 2017 - Titans of Mavericks, LLC Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
  • Feburary 8, 2017 - Ex Parte Motion to extending time for debtors to file assets & liabilities


Titans of Mavericks, LLC announces asset sale through Chapter 11

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Titans of Mavericks, LLC, Surfing's premier event and lifestyle brand and its affiliate Cartel Management, Inc. filed voluntary Chapter 11 petitions in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, initiating a process intended to preserve value and accommodate an orderly going-concern sale of its business operations. Since 2014, up to $3 million has gone into developing the brand and staging the annual event, which features the world's best surfers competing on waves that can reach 60 feet.
The Chapter 11 filings by Titans of Mavericks and Cartel Management represent the culmination of a strategy designed to implement a sale of the assets and intellectual property of the companies to afford a buyer certain protections available only in bankruptcy. Titans of Mavericks intends for such a sale to ensure a smooth and swift transition of the business and operations. "The brand has seen explosive growth since its creation," said Griffin Guess, Titans of Mavericks founder.
The companies determined that a sale through a Chapter 11 process is likely to achieve the highest and best value for their assets. "The process will allow Titans of Mavericks to reach new heights in the right hands. It is time for a larger organization to gain from all of our hard work," said Guess.  
Levene, Neale, Bender, Yoo & Brill L.L.P. is serving as legal counsel, and the Company has appointed Klinedinst PC to serve as transactional counsel.
About Titans of Mavericks
Titans of Mavericks, LLC. is a lifestyle brand and the world's premiere big wave surfing action sports event that takes place south of San Francisco, in Northern California. Thirty of the world's best athletes compete annually in the biggest conditions that can reach up 60 feet in wave height. Titans of Mavericks is an expansive brand that includes media, distribution, apparel, hard and soft goods, festival, and licensing.
SOURCE Titans of Mavericks, LLC



Link to current Harbor District event permit with Cartel Managment, Inc. for the Mavericks surf competition.