The Monaco Years

We promised to explain more about Giuseppe Luongo’s self-imposed exile from motocross.

His wide-ranging interview of August 2008, which we’ve referred to elsewhere on this website, gave some intriguing insights, particularly in relation to the time he spent in Monaco during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He's pictured with Prince Albert II in a photograph taken during this period.


In Mr. Luongo’s own words:


1988 is a really important year for me. I was living in the Principality of Monaco, and there I created the company ‘ACTION’ for the management of international events. More and more countries wanted the Masters of Motocross [a series featuring riders from the World Championship and US AMA Championship participating in a 4-round series including motocross, supercross and a beach race, first held in 1987] and the four-round series grew to six. 


1991 brings a lot of memories back. 1991 should have been the real ascent of Motocross, but it turned into the beginning of an incredible fall, due to strong political moves against the Masters of Motocross, and to my mistake of involving Nelson Piquet and other people around him in Motocross. After this experience I decided to quit and started to manage part of the Monaco Football Club, and the advertising of the AGS Formula 1 team.


The interview then moves to 1995 and covers Mr. Luongo’s return to promoting motocross with AGI. Based on material available in the public domain, we’re able to fill in some of the gaps in the story. 


In 1991, all seemed well. Business permits had been issued by the Monégasque authorities for the Masters of Motocross and Supercross de Monaco. You can watch highlights of the latter event below.

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1991 Masters de Supercross Monaco

The Monaco Years (continued)

But the mysterious ‘political moves’ and the involvement of former F1 driver Nelson Piquet (and others connected to him) appear to have caused Mr. Luongo’s world to collapse during 1992 and into early 1993. On 4th March 1993, the Journal de Monaco reported that the Court of First Instance had “noted the cessation of payments by Giuseppe Luongo under the business name ACTION” and formal proceedings to liquidate Mr. Luongo’s property and recover funds owed to his creditors commenced. 


Subsequent Journal de Monaco articles published in 1993 and 1994 noted:

 

  • the forced return of a mobile telephone to the supplier;
  • the forced sale of a Suzuki scooter for 7,000 F; 
  • the forced sale of a Renault Espace V6-RXE for 80,000 F; 
  • the forced sale of the rights to the Supercross of Monaco for 5,000 F; and
  • the forced liquidation of property for the sums of 7,340,384 F and 15,525 F.


According to the Journal de Monaco, Mr. Luongo also had two appearances before the Monaco Criminal Court in June 1994 and May 1995. On both occasions, the charge was for issuing checks without funds (Article 331 and 330 Paragraph 1 of the Penal Code). We do not know the outcome of these court appearances, and it would be unfair to speculate as to the verdicts. 


By March 1995, the actions taken by Christian Boisson (the trustee appointed by Judge Robert Franceschi to liquidate Mr. Luongo’s property), resulted in the repayment of debts to the Société Anonyme Monégasque Pastor (a joint stock company), to the COGENEC company (a Monégasque bank) and to the Principality’s Credit Guarantee Fund. Court procedures were formally closed in May 1995. Not long afterwards, the Becchis brothers persuaded Giuseppe Luongo to return to motocross. And we all know what happened next.


Why does this matter?


Discovering what occurred during ‘the Monaco years’ has helped us to learn more about Giuseppe Luongo’s background. It has also helped us to understand more about his personality, and why he has been such a tenacious – and frequently combative – businessman, initially with AGI and latterly with Youthstream. We’re not pretending to be psychologists, but clearly the experiences he endured in the early 1990s were both chastening and character-building, in a ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ way. Having been on course to sit on top of the motocross world, Luongo instead found himself trapped under an enormous pile of debt. We have a degree of sympathy, as it cannot have been a pleasant time in his life. As reasonable people, we also have a degree of admiration at the way Giuseppe has fought hard to forge a modern motocross empire, although we vehemently take issue with many of the sporting and commercial decisions he’s made along the way. We are entitled to disagree with him, just as he is entitled to disagree with us for forming MXGP Action Group to voice our fact-based opinions and reveal uncomfortable truths. We acknowledge that there have been some positive changes orchestrated by Youthstream – the presentation and coverage of the world championship has never been better – but this is cosmetic surgery and categorically not a substantive sign of the sport transcending to a significantly higher level. Putting an expensive saddle on a cow doesn’t miraculously turn it into a thoroughbred horse. If the cow had to pay a high price for the saddle in the first place, that makes an already uncomfortable situation even worse.


We don’t know how long Mr. Luongo intends to stay involved with motocross. He has previously spoken of “two very important political festivals” which he organized during his exile period in the early-to-mid-1990s. We wouldn’t be at all surprised if he ran for political office at some point. It’s also not inconceivable that Youthstream could be acquired (we've heard rumors of IMG Sports expressing an interest), leaving Ursula and her husband to live a luxurious life of leisure while a new hand steers the ship they – and others within the inner-circle – built. Or maybe they will stay in place to run the motocross world championship on behalf of a new owner, in a near-identical repeat of the Dorna Off-Road era. Perhaps he'll expand his operation with a bid for another FIM rights contract (speedway possibly). While we’re not fans of, or friends with, Giuseppe Luongo, the sport of motocross will be a very different place when he does depart. And there’s no guarantee that whoever comes next will do a better job. 


Whatever happens, we’re not going anywhere. Where there is MXGP, there will always be MXGP Action Group. We care too deeply about motocross to let it be run onto the rocks and left to sink. If you’ve read this far, you must care too. If we remain united, we can never be defeated.  


MXGP Action Group 

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