CEO Ryan Kopf Allegedly Attacks Vendor During MetaCon 2015

During this last weekend’s MetaCon in Minneapolis, a fist fight broke out. It wasn’t between a couple of angry teenagers, nor was it between belligerent drunks who had a few too many at the hotel bar. No, it was between MetaCon owner and CEO Ryan Kopf and vendor David Silvieus of “PLUSH in the USA.”

And it happened in the vendor room while it was open on a Saturday.

The incident is, frankly, an amazing one. We’ve talked to both sides along with a couple of witnesses, and tried to piece together what we believe to be the most accurate account of what happened. We also think it’s safe to say that there is no hero to this tale, only degrees of villain.

But I don’t think anyone is surprised by that.

According to both Silvieus and Kopf, the situation began on Saturday of the convention when MetaCon staffers approached Silvieus about bootleg plushies being sold at his table. Silvieus refused, and even according to his own account, demanded the con point out which plush toys were bootleg on his table.

Now, I’ve been working conventions for almost twenty years (full disclosure – Nerd & Tie is currently starting a new one), and this is pretty much the exact reaction every single bootleg toy seller has when you confront them. Kopf claims Silvieus got extremely agitated and yelled at the MetaCon staffer, which is pretty much the usual bullying tactic employed by most vendors caught violating their contract (especially when confronted by a young staff member) — so I believe it. As it was well within their rights, MetaCon staff decided to ask Silvieus to leave the event.

Silvieus, in a crowning moment of jackassery, then stated that he would only leave if the police made him.

That’s a thing that really happened, and it’s such a bizarre move that if Silvieus hadn’t told us himself directly that he did that I wouldn’t have believed it. I mean, even if the convention is wrong about whether or not you’re selling bootleg items, almost every dealer contract I’ve ever read gives the convention the right to boot a vendor from the venue. Hell, most have language where they technically don’t even need a reason to do it. The fact that Silvieus insisted that the police be the ones to ask him to go has me at a loss for words.

Like I said, there are no heroes in this story. staffers then proceeded to place chairs in front of Silvieus’s PLUSH in the USA table and sit in them to block access to the booth. Was this a good idea? Not even close – and Kopf stated that after this incident, it’s a policy they will no longer execute.

It is at this point that the stories diverge slightly. We are including what we believe to be the most accurate account of what happened, but Kopf opted not to give a detailed chain of events of the incident, stating:

My lawyer would advise me not to get into specifics, as a crafty opposing lawyer could easily twist even a well written account.

Silvieus, who was admittedly angry attempted to move the chair that Kopf was sitting in. Kopf claims that Silvieus was trying to “clobber” him, while Silvieus claims to have had no physical contact with Kopf.

Regardless, at this point, Kopf had the opportunity to step away from the incident and de-escalate the situation. The police had already been called, and all Kopf had to do was wait. That is, of course, not what happened.

Silvieus alleges that Kopf then stood up and came at him, punching Silvieus five times. Silvieus states that he then tried to defend himself, and found himself tackled by, and I quote, a “400 pound plus guy and other volunteers of the show.”

I don’t know the exact weight and size of all of Kopf’s staff, but I’m assuming that might be hyperbole.

Whether or not you think Silvieus (in his attempts to move Ryan’s chair) was trying to start a physical confrontation is a hard call to make – regardless, if what Silvieus alleges is true, Kopf’s response of striking Silvieus repeatedly seems inexcusable. Silvieus says he has stayed behind in Minneapolis a few days and obtained legal counsel so that he can press charges again Kopf.

As I said, there are no heroes in this story.

This whole thing, honestly, is just kind of amazing. Kopf is, of course, no angel. Between his iffy professional reputation and his pretty gross personal one, it’s easy to believe the worst of him. Silvieus also comes off as an entitled jackass – criticizing Kopf’s age for reasons I can’t begin to explain. Apparently Silvieus is of the opinion that people in their twenties shouldn’t be running shows — which would be news to most of us who attend cons in the region. Half of the cons in Wisconsin and Minnesota are run by people in their twenties (and many of the ones that aren’t were started by people in their twenties).

Hell, I was much younger than Kopf when I ran my first convention.

Taking all of this into account, I am prone to believe Silvieus’s version of events though. He just seems too oblivious of his own entitled, arrogant idiocy to bother making anything up. Silvieus openly admits to some of his worst behavior in the situation without blinking, completely unaware that he was in the wrong at many points in his account.

And while I don’t want to let Silvieus off the hook (and I’d certainly never allow him to vend at any show I run at this point), Kopf’s physical overreaction is inexcusable. If you weren’t already questioning the safety of attendees at his shows, it’s impossible not to do so if the organizer himself is physically attacking other people at events.

The biggest take away from all of this seems to be, at least for me, just plain old schadenfreude. Two relatively terrible people got into a fist fight — and it’s hilarious. No matter what happens with the legal course of events, we will now always have the day when a sketchy con runner got into a fist fight with a sketchy vendor to look back on fondly.

In a story filled with only villains, no matter the outcome, the rest of us win.

Trae Dorn

Trae Dorn has been staffing conventions for over twenty years, and is a co-founder of Wisconsin’s longest running Anime convention No Brand Con. Trae also wrote and drew the now completed webcomic UnCONventional, and produces the podcasts BS-Free Witchcraft, On This Day With Trae, Stormwood & Associates, and The Nerd & Tie Podcast. This leads many to ask when the hell they have time to actually do anything anymore. Trae says they have the time because they “do it all quite poorly.”

18 thoughts on “ CEO Ryan Kopf Allegedly Attacks Vendor During MetaCon 2015

  • September 8, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Ryan Kopf has the tongue of a snake and I wouldn’t believe anything he’s said about the incident.

  • September 8, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    So… a story where Kopf was in the right? Nice change of pace.

    • September 8, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      Well — not completely. From what most people are telling us, Kopf was the first to throw punches.

  • September 8, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    The fact that Ryan attacked someone at his convention is complete unprofessional, and the fact that his staff, especially a man (the 400 pound person is Cay, only other person I know who works the event who is overly large) should not have tackled him, as that could have caused serious bodily injury, which becomes even a bigger issue than before. I honestly hope the Hyatt yanks their contract for this, no OWNER of a convention should be getting into a pyshical altercation with his vendors, no matter what the reason, he should’ve just recorded the incident until police arrived, and handled it in a legal manner.

  • September 8, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    funny i heard that it was teh vendor who threw the first “hits”. and the vendor started to throw insults at another vendor

    • September 8, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      We’ve heard several different people say Silvieus struck first — but no two people have told a consistent story that claimed this (one says he punched Kopf, another says he dragged Kopf by the hair).

      On the other hand, we HAVE heard corroborating stories that Silvieus grabbed Kopf’s chair, and that Kopf threw the first punch. That’s why it’s the version of events we went with.

      That said — even IF Silvieus struck first, Minnesota is a retreat state. As Kopf had ample opportunity to get away (while Silvieus was actually cornered behind the booth), his attacks continued the conflict, and aren’t considered self defense.

      That, and Cay Combs has admitted to choking Silvieus on his facebook page, which is a whole other legal issue…

  • September 8, 2015 at 8:35 pm


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  • September 8, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    They told me it was because of bootlegs and made statements to the police that it was because I was harrassing other vendors. I have an employees statement. The only thing I did to any vendor was take a picture of their booth. Other than that I made nice with my neighbors who bought product from me on one side and called 911 on the other when I was getting attacked. One was a very nice man with kids and the other a nice family from this area and I asked them questions all weekend about Minneapolis because it was only my second time here. I always ignore other dealers because I am way to busy usually. Anyway I love talking to and building relationships with dealers. You may not like me but I was sucker punched. I have never heard or seen Ryan before but if I can say one thing. I am listed in his program and his website as a dealer and I have hundreds of photos’s of smiling customers wearing or holding my product. If he was concerned he should have checked my facebook page and refunded me before I drove over 700 miles to set up at his show and violence is never ever the answer.

    P.S. I have known many 20 something’s who were smart and mature and watched them become rich over the years but just as some are smart some are violent and whatever else this guy is he is immature and violent.

  • September 9, 2015 at 2:18 am

    I worked for Ryan back when he was getting started as a coordinator for conventions. The conventions I volunteered spanned from 2010-2012. I was involved in the behind the scenes planning and helped with a number of departments as the conventions were taking place. Now, nothing I add here will make any impact because to most of it will be a “Well that’s not surprising” thought, but, I feel like I should share some experiences I had while working under him.

    He uses these conventions not as a way to bring fans of the same niche culture together, but more so, for him to find a way to get drunk off his ass and party the weekend away. Very rarely was he available for consultation for something that needed his addressing because most of the time during the days, he was sleeping off the hangover from the previous night. Were were told to “figure it out ourselves” if we needed anything.

    Needless to say, that cause a lot of dysfunction and with the lack of coordination, it was easy to see from most con-goers that we were having issues keeping our own sanity.

    For example, during AnimeZing 2010, the first year of the event, Ryan was virtually unreachable, and we sort of took orders from an older lady (whose name escapes me) because she, I believe, had worked with Mindbridge (the company that plans AnimeIowa). She was the only professional person that we found that knew what to do.

    He has angered a lot of guests to the point where they won’t even touch anything Ryan is involved in. A guest and his band had such a bad experience with him that after the last convention they were at through him, I believe they left during the middle of the event, due to them not receiving their agreed payment on time.

    Overall, the reason why I stopped volunteering for his conventions and even stopped attending them all together, way the way he treated women. From my experience, he would get girls drunk with alcohol paid for from the proceeds of the con or previous cons, and try to sleep with them. Sometimes they would be under 21, or even in some cases, under 18.

    Anytime he’s gotten himself in trouble, he’s ran to his big mama and papa, who have the big bucks and a good lawyer, to get him out of trouble.

    Like I said, none of this should be any surprise, but just thought I’d share my experience.

  • September 10, 2015 at 1:26 am

    “Kopf claims Silvieus got extremely agitated and yelled at the MetaCon staffer, which is pretty much the usual bullying tactic employed by most vendors caught violating their contract”

    Out of curiosity – what usually happens when a person is accused but they AREN’T violating the contract? I’d think that either way a person would become agitated.

    • September 10, 2015 at 8:07 am

      Surprisingly they tend to stay calm in those situations for a while.

  • September 14, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I know Ryan and have been around him during his shows and others and I have Never seen him get in anyones face. I also know the person who after the dealer pulled Ryan’s hair he was tackled to the ground by in which security had every right to do at that point I mind you.

    I stand by the con.

    • September 14, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      Multiple witnesses have told us there wasn’t hair pulling — Cay Combs (who says the vendor struck Ryan first) never mentioned it in his account either. Unless you personally saw it, I have a hard time believing that the hair pulling occurred.

  • January 5, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Both sources you provided on top of this one come from first hand accounts of people claiming to be victims. There is no substantial objective logical backing to your claim,( on top of that you have the plethora of untapped first hand accounts that claim that the vendor not only hit first, but full on assaulted Ryan, by Pinning him to the chair and swinging multiple times, Ryan then defending himself, and then security did its function by separating the two. The only reason the vendor was placed on the ground was due to the fact that he was still trying to hit Ryan, wheres Ryan did a whopping one punch back to stop the assailant and then proceeded to back of to a safe distance.) – I would also like to clarify this is a first hand account I share with others , as I was in the room while it happened , and feel free to pick apart my claim as it is subjective due to it being my personal perception of the event.

    I am disappointing in you Nerd & Tie for producing such a cherry picked article when you have proven it is within your ability to provide quality coverage.

    I don’t care if you think Ryan is guilty or not , you should report the claims as claims , and only claim a fact when it is proven.

    To me this looks like this article is geared to smear another Conchair to promote your own personal convention.

    “Now, I’ve been working conventions for almost twenty years (full disclosure – Nerd & Tie is currently starting a new one),”

    “This whole thing, honestly, is just kind of amazing. Kopf is, of course, no angel. Between his iffy professional reputation and his pretty gross personal one,”

    “Taking all of this into account, I am prone to believe Silvieus’s version of events though”

    “In a story filled with only villains, no matter the outcome, the rest of us win.”

    While you did defame the vendor , your conclusive statements on all four of those examples are pretty one sided. I mean lets be honest , how much would you really gain from producing a NON biased account on a rival con.

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