Bitchin, who founded the popular magazine in 1996, sold it in January to Sextant Publishing. On Thursday, he sent an email out to readers and friends, advising that the magazine’s offices had been abruptly shut down the previous day.
“As many of you know, we sold Latitudes & Attitudes last January, and as part of the sales agreement, we were to work as consultants,” he wrote. “Recently we discovered things were not as they should be. Yesterday morning the offices were locked with the following sign on the door: ‘Offices Closed Until Further Notice.’
“Jody & I put our lives into the magazine, tv show, events and lifestyle for over 15 years. It is with very heavy hearts that we have to make this announcement.”
Bitchin said he and wife Jody plan to “rise from the ashes,” and said on his online forum that the pair are planning a new endeavor and will reveal more about it “as soon as we can get through the legal bullshit.”
Reached Thursday, Bitchin declined to comment further, citing legal reasons.
The Latitudes & Attitudes website has been taken down. Its homepage says the site is being redesigned and asks visitors to fill out a form to get updates on when it will be operational again. Sextant Publishing’s website is also offline and is redirected to a placeholder page for a website hosting company.
In January, Richmond, Calif.-based Sextant Publishing announced its acquisition of Latitudes & Attitudes Seafaring International, whose operations included television and radio ventures, exotic boat charters, boat show operations, and Living Aboard magazine.
At the time, Sextant Publishing President and CEO DJ Doran announced ambitious plans for the company, including updating the magazine, launching tablet and e-reader applications, expanding the television operation and developing new lines of products for the store.
“Our goal is to preserve the style and feel of the magazine and its peripheral operations while redeveloping its core businesses to better serve our loyal fans and introduce the magazine to a new generation of readers,” he said in a statement.
Bitchin remained publisher of the magazine until the end of 2011, then took on an advisory role. But as early as the end of January, there were rumblings of discontent about the new ownership when the Lats & Atts crew gathered at the Seattle Boat Show.
Bitchin acknowledged Wednesday on his online forum that he and Jodi had been “living in a fool’s paradise” since selling the company. The editor of Latitudes & Attitudes arrived at work Wednesday to find the doors closed and the locks changed, Bitchin said.
“At this time we do not know what will happen, but the ‘family’ (all of whom had been laid off over the past few months) are all in communication and we will update things as we can here on the bulletin board,” he wrote.
Doran could not immediately be reached for comment.
Jun 21 2012 in Business of Boating by Deborah Bach