LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Someone sold a downtown Las Vegas apartment building owned by the late Tony Hsieh for more than $1 million – the problem is the tech entrepreneur’s estate says it was all a fraud.
Hsieh bought the building at South Ninth Street and Bridger Avenue in 2012, county records said. In March of this year, someone representing the LLC that owns the building, which is now in the hands of Hsieh’s estate, sold it for $1.2 million.
Hsieh led retail giant Zappos for 20 years and retired as CEO in August 2020 — just months before his death. He played a pivotal role in the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas. He owned dozens of buildings in the area, including the former Las Vegas City Hall, which became the Zappos headquarters. Hsieh was worth an estimated $840 million at the time of his death, documents filed in court as part of two lawsuits against his estate stated.
The estate became aware of the sale in May, court documents said.
“On May 19, 2022, the estate learned that the property had been ‘sold;’ however, the estate was not responsible for the sale,” court documents said.
Hsieh died in a house fire in November 2020 in Connecticut. He was 46. His father, Richard Hsieh, is the administrator of his estate since his son did not leave a will. The future of Hsieh’s assets is playing out publicly in probate.
“There’s always an opportunity for someone to come in and cause a problem,” Shane Jasmine Young, an estate attorney and owner of the Young Law Group, said. “Trying to steal, unfortunately, we see that all the time.”
The transaction filed with the county and provided in court documents shows the transaction between “319 9th Steet, LLC” and “Galaxy Home Buyers LLC.” The warranty deed shows the sale from a person named Santiago Espinosa, but lawyers for the estate claim no such person has the authority to act on behalf of the company — and that they do not know who Espinosa is.
“Santiago Espinosa is not, and never has been, a manager of [the LLC],” documents said. A Secretary of State records search showed Espinosa is not listed as a managing member of the company.
A document also reveals the person requesting the deed is a title company based in Bakersfield. The address listed on the deed is “4900 California Ave. Tower B 2nd floor,” but the company is based in the 5000 block of the same road on the fourth floor.
In addition, the signature of the title officer for the title company was forged, documents said. It was unclear if other documents, including ones that were notarized, were also fraudulent.
“I would think that if someone — a third party — was trying to do things that were underhanded that they would pay attention to the details,” Young said.
The title has since returned to the Hsieh estate following demand letters its lawyers sent to the buyers, records showed.
“We just learned that you are a participant (knowing or unknowing) in a fraud that has been perpetrated against [the] owner,” part of the letter said. “The deed was executed by Santiago Espinosa, purportedly by the managing member of owner. Please be advised that Santiago Espinosa is not a managing member of owner, has no authority to act on behalf of owner and is unknown to owner. Accordingly the deed is fraudulent.”
Lawyers for the state are asking a judge to nullify the fraudulent sale from the property record.
“We don’t want to have issues down the road that cloud the title for a sale in the future,” Young said.
A hearing on the lawyer’s petition was scheduled for January. The I-Team contacted the buyer last week and did not receive a response. Lawyers for Hsieh’s estate have not commented publicly about the ongoing legal issues.
It was unclear Monday what happened, if anything, with the buyer’s money.