Who owned the Chippendales franchise after Somen Banerjee died?

Bruno Cooke November 23, 2022
Who owned the Chippendales franchise after Somen Banerjee died?
Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

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Welcome To Chippendales premiered on Hulu on November 22, 2022, in one of several attempts to tackle the real story of Chippendales and its founder Somen Banerjee.

Somen “Steve” Banerjee started the Chippendales in 1979. He named the troupe after the furniture that adorned the club where they first performed.

Banerjee was a Los Angeles club owner who later become embroiled in scandal and controversy.

When the owner of the Chippendales franchise died in October 1994, ownership transferred to his wife Irene.

Welcome to Chippendales | Official Trailer | Hulu

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Welcome to Chippendales | Official Trailer | Hulu
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Who owned the Chippendales franchise after the death of Somen Banerjee?

Somen “Steve” Banerjee was arrested in the 1990s. In 1994, reports the New York Post, he pleaded guilty to racketeering and murder and hanged himself in his prison cell.

But before his sentencing could take place, he transferred ownership of the Chippendales company to his wife, Irene.

She was an accountant. They married some time in the 1980s and had two children together, – daughter Lindsay and son Christian. Christian told the Post: “My mother used to say, ‘You don’t have to work a day in your life. There’s money in Swiss bank accounts.’” 

But when lawyers went to Switzerland to recover the money, the Post adds, there was nothing. “The only person who would know is my dad,” Christian said. “And he’s dead.”

Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

How does Christian Banerjee fit into who owns the Chippendales franchise now?

In September last year, Vice published a feature on Christian Banerjee, the son of Chippendales founder and former owner Somen “Steve” Banerjee.

Christian told the outlet that he had recently received a check for $81,000. It was from his maternal aunt and uncle. 

He described the money as a “bribe,” writes Vice, “to get him to stop investigating a stolen inheritance of hundreds of thousands—his lost Chippendales riches.”

Neither his aunt nor his uncle, nor his sister, responded to Vice’s request for comment on his allegations against them. But Bruce Nahin, Christian’s godfather, told the outlet he had “no reason to believe” there’s any truth to the claim that the young Banerjee’s aunt and uncle “spirited” his money away to a Panamanian bank account.

But the New York Post’s reporting is unequivocal: when Somen Banerjee died, Irene become the owner of the Chippendales franchise.

Kevin Denberg managed the franchise for nearly two decades

According to his LinkedIn profile, Denberg was the – or a – managing partner at Chippendales Entertainment for 19 years and 10 months, from March 2001 to December 2020.

He previously attended Columbia Business School and studied business at Boston University.

He now works at Thirty Five Ventures. Per the Chippendales website, he and “several other investors” purchased the Chippendales franchise in 2000. What this suggests is that Irene Banerjee sold the Chippendales to Denberg and co that year.

They began what the website refers to as a “new model” for the live show. They “reinvigorated” the brand for the new millennium. In short, he migrated the show to Las Vegas. Appetite had dried up in New York following the events of September 11, 2001.

Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Is Welcome To Chippendales on Netflix?

No. It’s a Hulu series. Each episode will stream weekly on the platform at 12 am PT, 3am ET.

The first two episodes are already available. Future episodes will land on Tuesdays.

Welcome To Chippendales will run for a total of eight episodes spread over seven weeks. 

Roger Ebert gives it two and a half stars out of four. It picks out Murray Bartlett as its “real headliner.” He portrays choreographer Nick di Noia with “devastating sincerity.”

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.