What Happened to Pam and Tommy’s Sex Tape? Who Has its Rights Now?

Image Credit: AP Archive/YouTube

‘Pam & Tommy’ follows the whirlwind romance between actress and sex symbol Pamela Anderson and rockstar Tommy Lee, who got married days after meeting each other. Unbeknownst to the couple spending blissful days savoring their new romance, a very intimate recording of theirs lands up in the hands of their disgruntled carpenter.

The show is inspired by real events and explores the wide-ranging effects that the leaked recording had on the lives of all those involved. On a broader scale, the eventually viral video gave an early glimpse of the far-reaching effects of the internet on personal information, to say nothing of the media frenzy that the surrounding incidents precipitated. So whatever happened to the actual tape from the safe? Who has it now? Let’s find out.

What Happened to Pam and Tommy’s Sex Tape?

In 1995, Rand Gauthier (essayed by Seth Rogen on the show) worked on Lee and Anderson’s mansion and made off with their safe as revenge for $20,000 in allegedly unpaid dues. Inside, he found the tape and, having worked in adult videos before, took it to his acquaintance Milton Ingley, an adult film director and producer. After seeing the tape and realizing they had a goldmine on their hands, they quickly made a few copies and then reportedly destroyed the original Hi8 cassette by melting the casing and cutting the tape into small pieces. Thus, the actual tape with the original recording was deliberately destroyed soon after it was stolen in order to avoid detection.

Image Credit: Rolling Stone

Of course, the private footage that was on the tape lingered and eventually spread like wildfire. However, the start was slow, and after multiple rejections from production companies refusing to buy the recording without (Anderson and Lee’s) release forms, Gauthier and Ingley realized they would have to find another path to potential customers. This is where the internet came in, and soon a website was set up which gave details of where one could pay the $59.59 needed to buy a VHS copy of the tape, which Rand would then mail out. Thus, the recording spread and became a notorious underground novelty, but also reportedly generated legitimate sales of $77 million.

It was only around January 1996 that the couple realized that the safe was missing and filed a police complaint. Meanwhile, Gauthier’s fortunes, after briefly shining, began quickly plummeting as others began selling copies of the tape. Since he didn’t own the rights to the video, Gauthier could not stop other bootleggers, and the video continued to spread. Soon, Penthouse magazine got their hands on it but initially was not allowed to depict scenes from the video since (having shot it themselves) Lee and Anderson did own the rights to the video.

However, the video was now so widely available that stopping it from spreading was near impossible. The couple reportedly sold the rights of the video to Seth Warshavsky, the founder of Internet Entertainment Group, whose website Club Love streamed the now-famous video for five hours straight. Soon after that, Warshavsky allegedly made a deal with Steven Hirsch of Vivid Entertainment to make VHS, DVD, and CD-ROM versions of the video. Thus, by around February of 1998, the once-private video of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee could now be purchased from a store by almost anyone.

Who Has Pam and Tommy’s Sex Tape’s Rights Now?

Image Credit: Erin Simkin/Hulu

Despite the original Hi8 cassette having long since been destroyed, the video is almost irreversibly a part of the internet and will exist online for the foreseeable future. Its rights were reportedly held by Waeshavsky till around 2003, after which they passed to his associate Cort St. George, who had been managing the video’s online rights. However, St. George reportedly let the license lapse in 2011, seemingly citing the video to hold bad luck. And so, the infamous video remains widely available, and, more notably, the eye-opening, then unforeseen events that surrounded its leak are a part of pop culture history.

Read More: Where is Pam Anderson now?