Updated March 4, 2021 - 11:43 pm
After taking the late Tony Hsieh’s family to court over contract disputes, a former longtime friend and assistant of the tech mogul has now filed more than $90 million worth of creditor’s claims in his probate case.
Attorneys for Jennifer “Mimi” Pham on Wednesday filed multiple claims in Clark County District Court related to contracts she had with Hsieh, the former Zappos boss who died in November at age 46 from injuries suffered in a Connecticut house fire. The biggest claim by far, $75 million, represents “the anticipated profit” from Hsieh’s venture in a documentary-movie streaming service.
The second-biggest claim, $7.5 million, is “the anticipated profit” from the Big Moose Yacht Club in Park City, Utah.
Overall, the monetary claims listed in the filings Wednesday total nearly $93.1 million.
Hsieh, who did not leave a will, was known for his lucrative tech career, having sold Las Vegas-based online shoe seller Zappos to e-commerce giant Amazon in a $1 billion-plus deal in 2009. As the court filings show, he also had his hands in other businesses.
‘A common practice’
The streaming service, Documentary+, launched in late January and was a joint venture between studio XTR and Hsieh. His ownership stake in the project is redacted in Pham’s court papers, which say the figure was blacked out from the publicly available filing at his estate’s request.
David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, attorneys for Pham in the probate case, declined to comment on the creditor’s claims.
Attorney Dara Goldsmith, who represents Hsieh’s family in the case, could not be reached for comment Thursday. A representative for the streaming service did not respond to a request for comment.
Las Vegas probate attorney Brent Bryson said the judge assigned to Hsieh’s case would be tasked with analyzing the claims to determine if they’re valid and if any money should be distributed to them.
Without filing a claim, a creditor could lose the ability to collect money after the estate is settled, he added.
“It’s a common practice,” Bryson said, “and it’s something that they had to do to try to recoup monies owed to them.”
Pham already has filed lawsuits this year alleging contracts she had with Hsieh weren’t being honored. In one, which was partially redacted, she claimed that Hsieh wanted to get into the documentary film industry and had tapped her to provide certain management and administrative support service.
After he died, his father, Richard Hsieh, and brother Andrew Hsieh were appointed co-special administrators of his estate. They issued a notice in late January suspending the contract, the complaint alleges.
Tony Hsieh had also contracted Pham to manage the Big Moose Yacht Club. She obtained a business license for the venue and submitted applications to the city to allow for nightly guests and the renting of its event space, according to the lawsuit.
After Hsieh died, Park City officials were told that Andrew Hsieh was taking over the application process and that a property management firm would be helping out, the complaint alleges.
According to court papers filed by Pham’s lawyers, she had been Tony Hsieh’s “assistant, right hand person, and friend for the seventeen years preceding his death.”
Hsieh used her cellphone account for his main number and had cable and utility accounts in Pham’s name, and they listed the same address on their drivers’ licenses, the court filings state.
Hsieh was a high-profile figure in Las Vegas. The face of downtown’s revival, he launched a side venture, then called Downtown Project, in 2012 to pump $350 million into the Fremont Street area. He became one of downtown’s biggest property owners and backed tech startups, restaurants and other ventures in the once-neglected corridor.
Hsieh’s father and brother have initiated plans to sell dozens of his downtown properties, filing more than 90 notices in Clark County District Court.
After the coronavirus pandemic abruptly ended his once-regular stream of interactions, events and good times in Las Vegas, Hsieh, who was unmarried, emerged in the wealthy Utah ski town of Park City. He bought several houses there last year, was surrounded by new people and hosted plenty of parties.
He also seemed to display erratic behavior, and reports of his drug use sparked concern, people familiar with Hsieh’s life in Park City have told the Review-Journal.
He was replaced as CEO of Zappos last summer without a formal announcement from the company he had led for two decades.