LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A friend of former Zappos CEO and Las Vegas entrepreneur Tony Hsieh has filed a lawsuit, seeking nearly $7 million. Tony Lee identifies himself as a friend of Hsieh’s since 2003, the lawsuit filed Monday said.
Hsieh died in a house fire in November 2020 in Connecticut. He was 46. In December, a judge named his father, Richard Hsieh, and brother, Andrew Hsieh, as special administrators to his estate, since the entrepreneur did not have a will.
Lee declined working for Hsieh exclusively but did provide “assistance” at times, involving business ventures in Vegas, the lawsuit said.
“Over the course of their relationship and on multiple occasions since 2003, Tony Hsieh would try to recruit Mr. Lee to work for him, including developing and running the Downtown Las Vegas project,” the lawsuit said. “On another occasion, in 2013, Tony Hsieh had also asked Mr. Lee to found an independent bank in the Las Vegas area that Tony Hsieh would finance. As recently as 2017, Tony Hsieh had asked Mr. Lee to be the founder of a ‘central bank’ for all Zappos cost center.”
In July, Hsieh met with Lee in Park City, Utah, where, according to the lawsuit, Hsieh attempted to recruit Lee to “develop another community like downtown Las Vegas… but better,” the lawsuit said.
In August, Lee agreed to a $1.5 million salary to work for Hsieh, the lawsuit said, leaving his job as a financial manager in Texas. He also agreed to a five-year contract.
The lawsuit alleges Lee then spoke with Hsieh’s father about the new job to assist his son.
“Mr. Lee explained to Richard Hsieh that although his scope of work was to conduct due diligence services on investments, Mr. Lee was beginning to work informally with Andy Hsieh… to reduce people taking advantage of Tony Hsieh,” the lawsuit said. “Mr. Lee was keeping an eye on Tony Hsieh the best he could, even personally cooking him meals from time to time.”
In January, two months after Hsieh’s death, Lee was notified his contract was terminated. The lawsuit claims Lee is entitled to the rest of the payment in his contract.
Last month, the estate’s administrators filed paperwork to explore the sale of more than 100 of the late Las Vegas entrepreneur’s properties in Las Vegas and Utah, documents obtained by the I-Team revealed. The properties vary from houses in Park City, to a resort near St. George, Utah, documents say.
A spokesperson for Hsieh’s family has declined to comment on ongoing legal matters.