LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Lawyers for the estate of late Las Vegas entrepreneur Tony Hsieh have included a photo of the tech visionary holding a nitrous oxide canister in new court documents as they continue to say the former Zappos CEO was in no state to conduct business transactions in his final months alive.
Lawyers representing Hsieh’s estate made the allegations in their response to a lawsuit from Hsieh’s former lawyer, Puoy Premsrirut. She is seeking payment per a creditor’s claim, documents said.
The photo, taken in mid-September 2020, shows Hsieh “emaciated” with a whippet canister in his hand, estate lawyers said. Nitrous oxide — or laughing gas, whippets or whippets — is sold as cartridges that are inhaled.
Hsieh died in a house fire in November 2020 in Connecticut. He was 46. In December 2020, a judge named his father, Richard Hsieh, and brother, Andrew Hsieh, as special co-administrators of his estate since the late tech visionary did not have a will. Andrew Hsieh resigned as a special administrator in July.
Lawyers for Hsieh’s estate have repeatedly written in court documents that Hsieh did not have the mental capacity to sign off on contracts in the months and years leading up to his death.
“Multiple individuals seized on Tony’s vulnerability to enrich themselves at Tony’s expense,” lawyers for the Hsieh estate write in the documents filed on March 31. “Dozens of separate and distinct transactions and financial commitments were procured from Tony in his diminished state, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of Tony’s money being spent by the time of his death.”
Estate lawyers said the transactions include a more than $2 million law fee, Hsieh’s purchase of the Zappos Headquarters in downtown Las Vegas for $30 million over its actual value, and a $3.5 million payment for a “sham production project” called Freeform, documents said.
“These transactions took place at a time when [one person] himself described Tony as a ‘mentally ill individual’ in a ‘pure psychosis,’ and ‘not in a good state of mind to make rational decisions,’” estate lawsuits said in court documents.
Court documents filed by Hsieh’s family in 2021 indicated Hsieh used ketamine and nitrous oxide in the years before his death. According to friends, Hsieh used “as many as 50 cartridges of nitrous oxide a day, often in public, or during ‘meetings’ with people,” documents said. Court documents also said Hsieh’s bedroom was “littered with hundreds of spent nitrous oxide cartridges.”
As the 8 News Now Investigators have reported, while Hsieh lived in Las Vegas, he had purchased several properties and was living most of the last year of his life in Park City, Utah. Previous court filings have estimated his wealth at nearly $850 million.
Hsieh was working on a “Park City Project,” which was to be built as a ranch where visitors would be “centered around the idea of no shoes, no tech, and no obligations,” lawyers said. According to court documents, Hsieh referred to the park as “Disneyland 2.0” and “County Zero.”
“Once inside the park, visitors would participate in activities to earn seashells that could be exchanged for food, balloon rides and spa days. After 100 hours, guests would leave the theme park, in Tony’s mind, committed to Country Zero and world peace and would continue to live on Earth Time from their personal residences,” lawyers said.
Lawyers for Hsieh’s estate have claimed millions of dollars of real estate were inflated in cost and at times were based on Tarot cards, they write.
Premsrirut previously filed a lawsuit against the estate to be paid for her legal services under her original contract and for her work “in sorting out various personal and business matters in which Tony Hsieh was involved,” court documents said. In the weeks before Hsieh’s death in 2020, she “consulted with a medical doctor to discuss having Tony involuntarily committed,” lawyers said.
“On October 29, 2020 (nine days after the [Zappos] transaction closed), Tony was taken to the emergency room after stating that he believed that he was ‘crystalizing,’ that he believed he was in a simulation, that he had been chewing cigarettes, and professing, ‘I just don’t know what’s real and what’s not,’” lawyers write in court documents.
On the night of the fire, Hsieh had retreated to a shed at the Connecticut home after a fight with his girlfriend and was using a propane heater to stay warm before the fire that killed him, investigators said. Hsieh was in a storage room with a 20-pound propane tank at the time.
In November 2019, Hsieh began to experiment with ketamine, which in high doses can lead to hallucinations, his family wrote in court documents. In 2020, Hsieh began using nitrous oxide as a replacement for other drugs he was taking.
There is no evidence in any court document of any wrongdoing other than the estate’s general allegations made in court documents.
Last month, a man who claimed he was owed more than $12 million of late Las Vegas entrepreneur Tony Hsieh’s wealth in a deal made on a Post-It note has settled with the former Zappos CEO’s estate, records showed. Details of the settlements were not made public.
Hsieh’s estate also settled a similar claim last month. Tony Lee, who said he was friends with Hsieh for nearly 20 years, filed a lawsuit in 2021 for $7 million, documents said. Details of his settlement were also not publicly disclosed. Lee took the photo of Hsieh included in the new court documents, estate lawyers said.
A jury trial had not been scheduled as of Monday.
Lawyers for the parties involved have never replied to requests for comment. Hsieh helped revitalize downtown Las Vegas and is revered for his service to the community.