I-Team: What’s next for Tony Hsieh’s fortune? Longtime friend files lawsuits

I-Team Special Reports

Estate attorney says revocable living trust would have prevented public

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Former Zappos CEO and Las Vegas entrepreneur Tony Hsieh was worth an estimated $840 million, documents filed in court as part of two lawsuits against his estate said.

Hsieh died in a house fire in November in Connecticut. He was 46.

In December, a judge named his father and brother as special administrators to his estate, since the entrepreneur did not have a will.

Two lawsuits filed in Clark County District Court claim Hsieh’s longtime assistant and friend, Mimi Pham, is entitled to some of his wealth and that Hsieh’s estate and companies he owned owe her money.

“It’s surprising, and then it’s not, because we see it happening all the time,” Las Vegas-based estate attorney Shane Jasmine Young said about not having a will or revocable living trust, which would have shielded the process from the public. “I’m sure he didn’t realize that this is probably the result, or that this would be the result, of not having any planning, but it is, unfortunately, for his family and other people that were in his life.”

In two lawsuits, Pham claims she is owed some of Hsieh’s “vast fortune” for work she performed on his behalf, documents said. According to the lawsuits, the duo was so close, Hsieh used Pham’s cell phone as his own. The lawsuits also claim Hsieh and Pham used the same address.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 08: Mimi Pham and Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh attend the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit Cockatil Party on October 8, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Pham’s work, according to the lawsuits, partly involves businesses in Park City, Utah, and a documentary film company, among other unnamed businesses.

“All of these people are going to come out of the woodwork and say, ‘Oh, Tony promised me this, I’ve got this contract, we had this agreement,’” Young said. “It’s already started to snowball.”

Last week, the administrators of Hsieh’s estate filed notices in Clark County District Court to explore the sale of nearly 100 properties. The lawyer for the estate, Dara Goldsmith, said the notices allow for the “possible future sale” of the properties and does not necessarily mean all would be sold.

Documents show the properties include Zappos Headquarters, which was most recently assessed at $20 million, records showed.

“Everybody has to have the opportunity to make claims in this public process,” Young said. Because Hsieh’s estate is worth more than $100,000, and there was no revocable living trust, the process must go through probate court. That also means the estate is applicable to taxes, which will end up skimming hundreds of millions off the top.

The process is the same for anyone worth more than $100,000. The trust acts as a gatekeeper for one’s wealth and assets in the event of death.

“Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t think of it,” Young said, “whether we’re super wealthy or not.” Young provides a free webinar to help guide Nevadans in their estate planning.

Lawyers representing Pham declined to comment, pending the ongoing litigation. They have asked for jury trials.

Hsieh led retail giant Zappos for 20 years and retired as CEO back in August 2020. He played a pivotal role in the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas and had an estimated net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

8 news now breaking and daily news sign up

CONTESTS

Pro Football Challenge

Don't Miss

Trending Stories