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Lawyers seek info on Tony Hsieh’s dealings with 2 Hollywood actors

Updated November 30, 2021 - 11:34 am

The day after Tony Hsieh died, Joseph Gordon-Levitt posted a solemn video about the late Zappos boss.

They met after Hsieh read the movie star’s book “The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories,” made through Gordon-Levitt’s venture HitRecord. Hsieh ended up being a “huge mentor,” a supporter and an investor in the online creative forum, Gordon-Levitt said in the video dated Nov. 28, 2020.

Now, attorneys for Hsieh’s main creditor are looking for information on dealings with Gordon-Levitt and others in Hollywood, including David Arquette and a documentary project about Bozo the Clown.

David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, lawyers for Hsieh’s former longtime friend and associate Jennifer “Mimi” Pham, on Nov. 21 filed notices of intent to serve subpoenas on Gordon-Levitt and his company HitRecord.org LLC, as well as on Arquette and his entity Bozo the Clown Documentary LLC, court records show.

Among other things, the lawyers are seeking communications or documentation of Hsieh’s planned or executed investment in HitRecord, of an investment by Hsieh’s estate in a “documentary project based on Bozo the Clown,” and of the two actors’ concerns for Hsieh’s “mental health and or perceived drug addiction.”

For Arquette, they also are seeking documentation of “any financial or monetary benefit” for introducing Hsieh to the heads of a documentary-movie streaming service.

The notices, filed in Clark County District Court, follow court filings on Nov. 15 showing Pham’s attorneys submitted subpoenas seeking, among other things, monthly financial statements for the Documentary+ streaming service.

Future of Hsieh’s fortune

The court actions mark the latest twist in the multipronged legal battle over Hsieh’s estate — a series of lawsuits and creditors’ claims that feature big sums of money, detailed accounts of Hsieh’s drug use and bizarre behavior in his final year alive, and allegations that people close to Hsieh took advantage of him financially as his health spiraled downward.

Multiple attempts to reach Gordon-Levitt, whose movie credits include “Inception” and “Snowden,” and Arquette, whose credits include the “Scream” franchise and “3000 Miles to Graceland,” for comment were unsuccessful Monday.

Chesnoff and Schonfeld did not respond to a request for comment, nor did attorneys for Hsieh’s family, who are overseeing his estate through his probate case, or Hsieh’s partner in Documentary+, studio XTR.

Hsieh, the former CEO of online retailer Zappos and face of downtown Las Vegas’ revival, died at age 46 on Nov. 27, 2020, from injuries sustained in a Connecticut house fire.

He was unmarried with no will and left a massive portfolio of real estate holdings, having become one of downtown’s biggest property owners through his side venture originally called Downtown Project.

Pham, who was described in court filings by her lawyers as Hsieh’s assistant, right-hand person and friend for 17 years, filed more than $130 million in creditors claims through the probate case as of last Monday.

Her largest claim, at $75 million, is the “anticipated profit” from Hsieh’s venture in the documentary-movie streaming service Documentary+ that launched this past January.

As seen on its website, XTR’s films include “You Cannot Kill David Arquette,” a documentary about the actor’s forays into WWE-style wrestling.

Arquette also acquired the rights to the Bozo the Clown character, according to news reports last month.

The Review-Journal previously reported that Arquette was friends with Hsieh, who in January 2018 posted a nature painting on Instagram with the question: “Is it weird to say that David Arquette taught me how to paint this last night?”

‘Mathematical algorithm for world peace’

Hsieh, who sold Zappos to e-commerce giant Amazon in a $1 billion-plus deal in 2009, moved the company to the former Las Vegas City Hall in 2013. After the coronavirus pandemic abruptly ended his interactions, events and good times in Las Vegas, Hsieh emerged in Park City, Utah, buying several houses there last year as part of a then-mysterious undertaking.

He also was replaced as CEO of Zappos in summer 2020 without a formal announcement from the company he had led for two decades.

After his death, his darker side was soon in the spotlight as news groups reported that Hsieh had been using drugs and displaying erratic behavior.

According to court filings by his own family this year, Hsieh was “perpetually under the influence of Ketamine” for a period, thought he could transform into animals or objects, believed he had “discovered the mathematical algorithm for world peace,” and was taking an “excessive” amount of nitrous oxide.

This story has been updated to reflect that attorneys are seeking information on an investment by Tony Hsieh’s estate in the Bozo the Clown documentary project.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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