Transformers Producer Drops Lawsuit Against Gary Gygax's Widow Gail

Illustration for article titled Transformers Producer Drops Lawsuit Against Gary Gygaxs Widow Gail

Hollywood producer Tom DeSanto has dismissed his $30 million lawsuit against Gail Gygax, the widow of Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax, Kotaku has learned.


DeSanto, who produced X-Men and Transformers, had been in talks with Gail Gygax for eight years about how to capitalize on Gary Gygax’s intellectual property, including his name and likeness. In 2016, they signed a deal which, as DeSanto claims in his lawsuit, gave him “the exclusive right to develop and exploit the Gygax IP in all media, including film, TV, video games, merchandising and licensing, either by himself or through third parties.”

In 2018, DeSanto sued Gail Gygax for breach of contract. According to the suit, he claimed that she violated their agreement by moving to produce a video game with the company Fig based on the first dungeon that Gary Gygax had designed, Castle Greyhawk. He also claimed that she didn’t have the rights to Gary Gygax’s IP to the extent she claimed. For her part, Gail denied this and says she never meant to give DeSanto rights to Gary’s whole library.


“Unfortunately, my lawyers and I discovered troubling facts about the Estate which prevented me from executing my plans for the Estate,” said DeSanto in a comment to Kotaku. “The dismissal was without prejudice and the interest in the Estate I negotiated for is still on the record. I remain and will always be a great admirer of Gary Gyxax and mindful of his legacy as an icon in the gaming world.”

Reached for comment, Gail Gygax told Kotaku that “I always believed Tom was using the lawsuit as a tool to extend or change the terms of his contract. I’m glad it’s over. Its time to for everyone to move forward. That’s what Gary would have wanted.

Kotaku profiled Gail Gygax earlier this year. DeSanto’s lawsuit is the fifth she has battled since her husband passed.

[Update—4:21 pm ET]: This article has been updated to include Gail Gygax’s comment.

Senior reporter at Kotaku.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter



“Unfortunately, my lawyers and I discovered troubling facts about the Estate which prevented me from executing my plans for the Estate,”

This is code for: “We’ve discovered that the rights to Gygax’s IP are a literal rat’s nest, and I have no interest in dealing with that.” From Cecilia’s phenomenal article from earlier this year:

In May 2017, DeSanto’s suit reads, he learned that Gary Gygax had a second will. He wrote it shortly before his death. That will, according to the complaint, merely gives Gail a life estate to some of Gary’s IP—the parts his children couldn’t claim. That would mean that, when Gail dies, DeSanto would no longer have the rights to develop Gygax properties, making their contract worthless.

As brilliant as Gary Gygax was, he did not seem to have much business savvy or “street smarts.” And Gail, who for all intents and purposes holds the keys to the kingdom, appears to be extremely paranoid and/or suffering from mental issues. Unfortunately, it will probably take the IP passing to Gary’s children before any of this starts being handled with the care it deserves.