The $2 million legal battle between super-chef Gordon Ramsay and Duco Events has lifted the lid on the huge money involved in charity events.

Duco, the promoters behind the Tua vs Cameron fight, intended to pay itself a "management fee" of more than $250,000 plus GST for hosting two charity dinners, High Court documents released to the Herald on Sunday reveal.

Duco boss David Higgins said that was fair enough as he took all of the risk - and "worked his butt off" to make it a success.

"These are normally confidential figures, and there is a sensitivity around them. I am an event promoter trying to earn a living, I have a staff to pay, rent to pay, overheads and I pay a lot of tax. I have good years and bad years."


Ramsay cancelled the two charity dinners that were supposed to raise money for Napier schoolgirl Matisse Reid's multiple organ transplant.

Higgins was left $300,000 out of pocket from the event. He was seeking $2m from Ramsay and his company Gordon Ramsay Holdings, plus celebrity agents Kruger Cowne.

The Chance To Eat Trust was in line to make $200,000.

Higgins said he would only settle the court action with Ramsay if there was a payment in it for Matisse: "This court action is meant to put things right."

The chef was promised around $100,000 for two nights work, plus first-class air fares, and all expenses paid.

Big corporate sponsors also contributed significant amounts. TVNZ supplied $200,000 in airtime in return for access to Ramsay. A TVNZ spokeswoman said this was part of a wider sponsorship deal with Duco, and the network did not pay for interviews.

"We are not out of pocket," she said.

Whitcoulls donated $140,000, while the New Zealand Herald - sister paper to the Herald on Sunday - also invested thousands of dollars in the event.


The huge sums were news to Jodee Reid, the devoted mum who has moved her family to Pittsburgh, in the US, so 11-year-old Matisse can be close to a specialist unit.

As a small business owner, Reid sympathised with Duco and said she was disappointed with Ramsay.

"David Higgins had put in so much. A lot of people lost a lot."

Matisse, meanwhile, is discovering a taste for unusual foods - her favourite meal was squid, which she cooks in breadcrumbs, pan-fried or skewered.

"She likes to buy it unfilleted and cut out the eyes," says Jodee. "She hates McDonald's and refuses to eat junk food."

Ramsay, who flies to New Zealand next month for a promotional trip, claimed his mother's illness prevented him from appearing at the first charity dinners in April 2010. The event was rescheduled for October that year but Ramsay cancelled again.


The court documents show Ramsay had more family troubles, firing his father-in-law and business mentor Chris Hutcheson, who had run his global restaurant empire for more than a decade.

Hutcheson and Ramsay both went on to sue each other, with the case recently being settled.

For more information about Matisse's progress, see