Kim Kardashian’s Bizarre Ties to Britney Spears’ Conservatorship Nightmare

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Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

In the weeks since Britney Spears delivered her powerful testimony about her “abusive” conservatorship, her 13-year plight struck a chord with the world, invigorating her supporters and fellow celebrities who rushed to voice their support.

Paris Hilton declared that her old friend “deserves her freedom,” Courtney Love, Mariah Carey, Madonna, and Miley Cyrus also joined the chorus to #FreeBritney. Spears’ former The Mickey Mouse Club co-star Christina Aguilera penned a reflective, heartfelt message, saying her heart goes out to the singer.

“The conviction and desperation of this plea for freedom leads me to believe that this person I once knew has been living without compassion or decency from those in control,” she wrote.

But among Hollywood’s biggest names, there’s been one person who has been noticeably quiet: Kim Kardashian.

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It’s surprising, given how in recent years Kardashian has repositioned herself as an activist, particularly for criminal justice reform. She’s traveled to the White House to lobby former President Trump, she’s successfully campaigned for releases of more than a dozen prisoners, and publicly mourned the execution of Brandon Bernard.

Spears and Kardashian aren’t exactly strangers, either. They’ve been photographed together on a number of occasions, Kardashian fangirled over her in the early 2010s, introducing her at events and even calling Spears her “friend” as recently as 2016, and her sister Khloé Kardashian was the host of the singing competition X Factor while Spears served as a judge in 2012. (Khloé tweeted her support of Britney last month: “No one should be treated like this. Stay strong Queen!! You deserve better.”)

The only time Kardashian came close to mentioning Spears’ plight was in reaction to the documentary Framing Britney Spears. Kardashian wrote in an Instagram Story that she had finally gotten around to watching the doc, but instead of commenting on the film’s central point of the conservatorship, Kardashian addressed the negative media coverage that Spears was forced to suffer through.

“I feel a lot of empathy for her,” Kardashian wrote. “The way the media played a big role in her life the way it did can be very traumatizing and it can really break even the strongest person.”

She then went on to recall how she was similarly hounded by the paparazzi—and the cruel press that she was subjected to—while pregnant with her first child North West, then shared several tabloid covers that mocked her weight gain.

But if Kardashian was so moved by the documentary about Spears’ troubles a few months ago, why hasn’t she spoken out in support of Spears following her heartbreaking testimony, even when fans spammed her accounts, begging her to use her platform to condemn the conservatorship?

It’s a bit of a messy web, but perhaps she’s stayed silent because she is herself entangled with an ex-key player of Spears’ conservatorship—the singer’s former longtime business manager Lou Taylor, who reportedly helped Jamie Spears set the conservatorship in motion.

Unraveling the connection between the three women goes back to 2007, when Spears was in an apparent downward spiral. The pop star was in the midst of a messy custody battle with her ex-husband Kevin Federline over their two young sons and seemingly having a breakdown in the public eye, having been infamously photographed shaving her head and attacking a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella.

It culminated in a dramatic standoff in Jan. 2008, when Spears locked herself in the bathroom with one of her sons, refusing to hand him over. Police were called to the scene and eventually Spears was transported to the hospital on an involuntary 5150 psychiatric hold.

Around the time of the hospitalization, Jamie and Taylor, founder of Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group, began discussing the idea of putting Spears in a conservatorship, according to reports and Lynne Spears’ memoir, Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World. “Quiet plans had been underway for six weeks for Jamie to petition the court for temporary conservatorship of Britney, but it seemed like an impossible dream at that point,” Lynne wrote.

The conservatorship plan was believed to be the best attempt for the Spears family to regain control of their perceived-to-be out-of-control daughter. Issuing a response to The New Yorker’s recent report on Spears’ legal battle, Taylor’s lawyer claimed she was “more of a listener than a contributor” to the conservatorship plan.

Taylor was previously accused by Michael Lohan of suggesting that he put his daughter Lindsay Lohan under a conservatorship, and musician Courtney Love also claimed Taylor tried to do the same thing with her family’s estate. Taylor has denied that she ever tried to put anyone in a conservatorship.

While the conservatorship discussions were taking place, Taylor wasn’t technically Spears’ business manager, but she had been getting close to Jamie, according to The New Yorker. She was also making media statements on behalf of the family days after Spears had been hospitalized. “[Britney] needs to have some security somewhere that every single thing she does and every single person she has a relationship with doesn’t become an opportunity to be exploited,” she told the Today show.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Lou Taylor.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">John Shearer/Getty</div>

Lou Taylor.

John Shearer/Getty

But after Spears was put under a second psychiatric hospitalization a few weeks later, a judge granted Jamie conservatorship over Spears’ person and her estate. Jamie later hired Taylor as business manager for Spears’ comeback Circus tour in 2009. She would eventually become business manager of Spears’ estate, earning herself a few writeups about the so-called success she brought to Spears’ team.

A glowing article in Variety from 2017 declared: “Taylor’s most significant signing is Spears, who became a Tri Star client after a period of personal and professional tumult in the late 2000s. Not only did Taylor help get Spears’ affairs in order, but she was also one of the architects of the singer’s residency at Axis Theater at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.”

Things became murky in Jan. 2019, when Spears pulled out of her second Las Vegas residency and announced she would be taking an indefinite hiatus from working. At her bombshell hearing last month, Spears said that during this timeframe she was being forced to do the residency. When she pushed back, she said she ended up being put on lithium and ushered into a $60,000-a-month rehab center in what she saw as a form of punishment.

Although Spears wasn’t working, Jamie decided to “modify” Taylor’s compensation in Dec. 2019, “more than doubling” her company Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group’s minimum annual fee to $500,000, according to court papers filed on Spears’ behalf.

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It was around this time period that Spears’ devoted fans began the now-viral #FreeBritney movement, concerned that she was being held against her will at a Los Angeles mental health treatment facility in April 2019.

Taylor suddenly resigned as Spears’ business manager with “no notice” in Oct. 2020, according to court documents filed by her now-former court-appointed lawyer Sam Ingham in Nov. 2020. In response, Jamie claimed that Taylor had been receiving death threats from Spears’ supporters.

It’s surprising that Taylor has been largely absent from recent conversations around Spears’ conservatorship, despite reportedly being present from its inception and having close ties with Jamie.

Kim Kardashian enters the picture in 2019, when Taylor suddenly becomes involved in the Kardashian Jenner Family Foundation. Previously, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner’s longtime business manager Lester Knispel was listed on tax forms for the years 2016 and 2017 as the non-profit’s principal officer. He was also listed as Chief Financial Officer and Secretary in corporation filings in 2018.

But in tax returns for 2019, Knispel’s name and firm were nowhere to be found and instead, Taylor’s business address for Tri Star was listed as the charity’s address. And in corporation filings in 2020, Taylor replaced Knispel as Secretary and Chief Financial Officer.

In July 2020, the address for Taylor’s business Tri Star was listed in corporation filings for Kim Kardashian’s beauty company KKW Beauty and fragrance business. Taylor was named as Agent for Service of Process, which means if the business is hit with a lawsuit, it would be sent to Taylor. (The Kardashians did not respond to requests for comment.)

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears in 2012.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Larry Busacca/Getty</div>

Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears in 2012.

Larry Busacca/Getty

This May, Kylie Jenner’s makeup company Kylie Cosmetics and her King Kylie LLC also named Taylor as Agent for Service of Process and had Taylor’s business management firm’s address listed.

But suddenly last week, both Kim and Kylie’s corporations filed new Statement of Information on their businesses, changing their Agent for Service of Process to ERESIDENTAGENT Inc., wiping Taylor’s name from the filings. However, Tri Star's address is still listed all over the paperwork.

It comes as both Jenner and Kardashian are entangled in a legal battle with Seed Beauty—the manufacturer of their beauty products. Last summer, Seed Beauty sued Coty—which is the majority stakeholder in Kylie Cosmetics—alleging that Kylie’s company had given trade secrets to its rival.

Kardashian’s beauty company was also sued by Seed Beauty over similar reasons, requesting a temporary restraining order to prevent the company from handing over “highly sensitive and confidential trade secret information” to Coty, which purchased a 20 percent stake in KKW.

This summer, both Jenner and Kardashian announced they would be temporarily taking down their sites to relaunch their brands. Kardashian said KKW Beauty would return with a “completely new brand with new formulas that are more modern, innovative, and packaged in an elevated and sustainable new look.” In May, Jenner wiped her Kylie Cosmetics’ Instagram page, and shuttered its website in May. She relaunched Kylie Cosmetics on Thursday.

While Taylor has a string of high-profile clients, including Jenner’s partner Travis Scott, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Steven Tyler, Mary J. Blige, Meghan Trainor, and Jason Derulo, her ties to arguably the world’s most famous family have stayed quiet, and it seems Kardashian isn’t quite ready to make it known—or voice her support for Spears.

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